Grundy County officially has its second Economic Development Project Area.
The Grundy Economic Development Council received word this week that the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity approved the application. Last month, the GEDC delivered the application packet to the Department of Commerce, said Missy Durkin, business development director for the GEDC.
"As we work with people to attract them to Grundy County or to help them expand, we have two separate zones now," she said.
Legislation was originally passed in July 2005 to create Grundy County’s first project area to ease the impact of the county’s machinery and equipment tax, which taxes machinery and equipment as real property. In 2010, similar legislation enabled Grundy County to set up a second zone by July 1.
"Grundy County is the only county of the 102 counties in Illinois with the M&E tax, and that's why we need the EDPAs to basically give us a tax break," said Millie Dyer, chairwoman of the EDPA Committee.
The tax zones allow the county to negotiate taxes for eligible projects, creating a new investment in the zone. The equalized assessed value of the area is frozen for up to 23 years, and tax money made following the freeze goes into a fund used for rebates for machinery and equipment costs.
The first zone is more than 12,000 acres from Minooka to the south and southwest along U.S. 6 to the east side of Morris. The newly established second zone is limited to 2,000 acres, the majority of which is Midwest Generation’s former Collins Station plant, which closed in 2004.
"It contains the Midwest Generation site, so whether they decide sometime down the road to redevelop themselves or if they sold it and someone else wants to. . . it has rail, river and a lot of power so it's an excellent location for a lot of development," Durkin said.
EDPA No. 2 had to include a brown field component, said Durkin, so there is a 250-acre parcel included. In addition, there is a few other parcels included separate from Midwest Generation’s property.
The second zone is in Aux Sable, Goose Lake and Wauponsee townships.
"It means jobs and money into the county," Dyer said.
The GEDC has three to five different prospective companies right now interested in using the EDPA zones, said Durkin.
Clean Line Energy Partners is one of several companies considering Grundy County and the use of a zone, she said. It is a company considering locating to Grundy County to install its transmission line to deliver wind energy from areas of the Midwest to the east.
So far, neither zone has been utilized yet.
"With the economy starting to make that turn, I think we're going to see more activity. Where, in the last few years, it's been quiet," said Durkin.
The first zone expires in 2029, the second 2034.
When deciding on the second zone, the GEDC considered the former Orica site in Seneca, but several different factors made it go with Midwest Generation's site, including the fact that, down the road, if there were interest in development, Seneca could annex the Orica property and offer a Tax Increment Finance District as an incentive.
"This property had less opportunity," Durkin said.