Downtown could see new developments in the near future as the enterprise zone is extended. (WJBC file photo)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - The redevelopment of Downtown Bloomington could be starting with the expansion of the enterprise zone.
The State of Illinois is expanding the Bloomington-Normal-McLean County enterprise zone into the downtown area. Ken Springer, Senior Associate for Research & Economic Data for the Economic Development Council, said the move allows the city to look at new development projects - and adds new incentives.
"The three that are most popular and well-known for the enterprise zone are building material and sales tax exemption, investment tax credits, and exemptions for the Illinois natural gas tax," Springer said.
Amounts for incentives will be directly related to individual projects and will take into account financial investment and job creation. Some developments are already being explored.
"Obviously the big one that sticks out is the old Coachman Hotel site which is a ripe opportunity for redevelopment and we made sure the zone covered that location," Springer said. "There are also some mixed use possibilites but most of those are on the prospective side right now."
The enterprise zone is used to help incentivize redevelopment and ensure the long-term security of fiscal, economic and social health while potentially creating and maintaining jobs. Most importantly, Springer pointed to the expansion as meaning the future is open for business.
"Essentially, we envisioned the enterprise zone to help all kinds of new develoment projects that might happen in that area," Springer said.
The extension into the downtown area was first proposed in Sep. 2012. City Manager David Hales said the move makes Bloomington "a more competitive location for conducting business and an important, much needed tool."
Zach Dietmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.