In his State of the State address, Governor Bruce Rauner announced the launch of the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation (ILBEDC), a non-profit organization modeled from best practices of other successful state and local EDOs.
The creation of a private Illinois economic development organization to promote the state was a key recommendation of the Governor’s bipartisan transition committee last year, and the required legislation (Amendment No. 1 to HB0574; Illinois Business and Economic Development Partnership Act) was filed in April in the Illinois Legislature.
The ILBEDC will not replace the Illinois Department of Commerce, which will maintain key functions, including federal program administration and final authority and oversight of all state grants and incentives negotiated by the ILBEDC.
The Governor will sign an Executive Order in the coming days to formally establish its relationship with the Illinois Department of Commerce. The formation of the ILBEDC and its operations at least through FY16 will be funded entirely with private donations. The Department of Commerce will maintain all its existing duties, including working with companies on expansion and relocation efforts, until the ILBEDC is operational.
Illinois Department of Commerce Director Jim Schultz noted in a release that there is no reason Illinois should not have a thriving economy. Yet the state continues to lag behind other states and national averages, and is losing a steady stream of businesses, jobs and residents to other states.
Last year, Illinois lost an average 250 jobs a month and ended the year with 3,000 fewer jobs, in stark contrast with overall national growth. Families are fleeing the state in droves, with more than 100,000 residents having left Illinois last year.
Schultz added that the rigid structure and suffocating bureaucracy of the Department of Commerce hinder their ability to attract businesses to Illinois and to drive economic development. “A mere 14 percent of Department of Commerce staff is dedicated to economic development activities, limiting the resources to attract and to retain business, which is a disservice to Illinois businesses and taxpayers,” said Schultz.
The Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation will enter into grant agreements with the Illinois Department of Commerce, and will also be able to negotiate tax incentives with private businesses, subject to DCEO approval.
Final composition of the ILBEDC board is still under development. The organization will be subject to transparency laws, including Freedom of Information Act. It will publicly disclose board meeting minutes, final copies of all grant and tax incentive agreements with which it had a part in negotiating, and donors to the organization.
For more information on the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation, visit www.ilbedc.org.