Normal Town Council approves economic incentives package

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NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Monday night, Normal town leaders signed off on a plan that promotes economic development in the area.

Normal leaders approved its portion of an intergovernmental agreement between the Town, City of Bloomington, and three other agencies.

The Bloomington-Normal Enterprise Zone will standardize incentives for businesses looking to move into Bloomington-Normal, McLean and Ford Counties, or Gibson City.

It was created by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in 2017, but the Bloomington-Normal EDC is in charge of the region.

With Monday’s approval by the town, it’s a step closer to coming to fruition.

CEO of Bloomington-Normal’s EDC Patrick Hoban said standardizing incentives attracts new businesses to the area and prompts existing businesses to stay.

“The idea of having a standardized incentive actually encourages development by current businesses and new businesses. As long as you can create 25 jobs and invest $250,000, you can get a five-year property tax abatement on the increment,” Hoban said.

Hoban said the plan also offers incentives for businesses to hire most of its workforce from McLean or Ford Counties, perks for hiring women and minorities, and creates a program with the area schools.

Hoban said by doing this, businesses know the advantages right away of moving to the region.

“It’s really important to all the parties involved because whenever we’re in competition for a project or if a local company is looking to invest here, they’re also looking a lot of times at other communities and other states and it’s nice to know what the rules of the game are,” Hoban said.

The agreement was approved 7-0 Monday night, with all council members voicing their approval for the plan. Kevin McCarthy said it shows businesses all governmental bodies are willing to work together and promote business development.

“Basically, we’re handing out a sign saying we’re open for business, and we’re very interested in you moving to Bloomington-Normal and McLean County,” McCarthy said.

Under the plan, specific businesses are eligible for the perks, including logistics and warehousing, information technology, information technology manufacturing, clean technology manufacturing, finance, insurance, and real estate.

Other businesses such as gas stations, car washes, liquor stores, and payday lenders are not eligible for the perks, but McCarthy said that doesn’t mean they’re not welcome.

“Not that we don’t want others, but those had a particular focus when the community came together to identify businesses that would thrive here,” McCarthy said.

The plan has already been approved previously by the City of Bloomington’s council and McLean County’s Board. It now heads to Ford County and Gibson City for its governments’ approvals

Hoban said the plan will still need sign-off from the local school districts’ boards.

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