Local governments team up for I-57 enterprise zone - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Local governments team up for I-57 enterprise zone

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WSIL -- Franklin County, Benton, West Frankfort, and West City are joining forces to apply for an I-57 corridor enterprise zone. Under the proposal, Benton and West Frankfort would slightly expand their current enterprise zones, while West City's would be brand new.

David Garavalia, who is in charge of Benton's zoning and economic development says since the state only approves a limited number of enterprise zones, it makes more sense to apply together. 

"From how I understand it, the state is going to award 13 enterprise zones," Garavalia explains. "So it's a lot easier to get one enterprise zone with a bigger area compared to four enterprise zones for the same area." 

Businesses within the zone will receive sales tax and property tax incentives, and be encouraged to buy locally. Property tax abatement will gradually decrease over a five year period. 

  • Years 1 & 2: 100% 
  • Year 3: 75% 
  • Year 4: 50%
  • Year 5: 25% 

West Frankfort Mayor Tom Jordan says although some may be opposed to these tax breaks, which fund schools and parks, it does bring in revenue down the line, "If there is no development, there is no taxes. So if we can lure people here to build buildings and to develop, then there will be a tax base." 

West Frankfort's enterprise zone includes Main street, the industrial park, and the mall. The zone will expire this year, but most of the businesses are in a Tiff District, which trumps enterprise zones.

"We wouldn't be able to provide is the sales tax abatement, but through tiff, we will be able to provide and abatement of real estate taxes," Jordan says. 

On Monday night, Benton's City Council approved applying with the other government agencies for the project. Tuesday night, the West Frankfort city council unanimously approved to abate sales tax.

The Mayor of West City says the enterprise zone will likely go up for consideration in December, but should be approved. 

If selected by the state, the I-57 corridor enterprise zone would go into effect on January 1, 2020. 

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