SPRINGFIELD – The enterprise zone application for Whiteside/Carroll counties was approved Sept. 6 during a meeting of the state’s Enterprise Zone Board in Springfield.
Betty Steinert, who had been the Whiteside/Carroll enterprise zone administrator since 1999, also wrote the application. Steinert is a past president of the Illinois Enterprise Zone Association.
The current enterprise zone designation was set to expire Dec. 31.
Twelve applications were on the board’s list Sept. 6, and only six were approved.
“The board could have approved all of the requests or none of them, and they don’t have to give a reason for their decision,” Steinert said.
The board had one previous meeting to discuss the applications, and Steinert said she left the first one feeling pretty good about Whiteside/Carroll’s chances.
“They had indicated that we were in the top six at the first meeting, but you never know for sure until they vote,” Steinert said.
The designation is good for 15 years, and in year 13, applications are due for a 10-year extension.
The process has been extremely competitive because the 30-year life spans on many of the state’s oldest enterprise zones were supposed to expire in 2014. The state, however, backed up the expiration dates by 2 years, and those applications converged with 17 more zones that were to expire in 2017 and 2018.
The Whiteside/Carroll enterprise zone offers incentives to a wide range of businesses, from industrial parks to small downtown retailers. It includes some of the area’s largest employers, including Walmart Distribution Center and Wahl Clipper.
The villages of Tampico and Milledgeville have been added to the new enterprise zone. In 1987, Sterling put in the first application, and 1 year later, the Whiteside County Enterprise Zone was approved with the cities of Sterling, Rock Falls, Morrison, and several rural areas. In 1990, parts of Fulton, Prophetstown and Lyndon were added to the mix.
In 1991, parts of Carroll County, including Savanna and Thomson, were brought into the zone, and areas in Mount Carroll in 2003.
Applicants that aren’t approved must wait a year to be considered for certification. There are 97 enterprise zones in Illinois.