Posted: January 8, 2017
Illinois moves to regain its EDGE
It looks like Illinois is back in the business of offering Edge tax credits to companies that expand in the state. But that may not be the case for long.
In a mini-breakthrough in warring Springfield, both the House and Senate today signed off by wide bipartisan votes on legislation to allow the state to offer Edge credits to qualifying employers until April 30.
The measure now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who just confirmed; he will sign the extension into law. From a statement: "While the Governor will sign today's EDGE extension bill, it is our hope the 100th General Assembly works swiftly to pass Sen. Althoff's THRIVE Job Creation Tax Credit bill that will transform the current program to provide a better value to taxpayers. THRIVE ensures the state only offers tax credits on new jobs created, while also including additional incentives to create jobs in areas that need economic growth like Chicago's south and west sides."
Authority to offer such incentives had automatically sunsetted Jan. 1, caught amid the continuous battles in the capital over terms for adopting a fiscal 2018 state budget and fully funding all programs this year.
Both Democrats and Republicans say they want changes in the Edge program, the state's largest and, by many accounts, most effective tool in getting companies to move and expand here. For instance, Sen. Pam Althoff, R-Crystal Lake, and Melissa Bush, D-Grayslake, are sponsoring legislation to cut the size of Edge incentives and limit them to net versus retained positions.
Bush referenced that in floor debate today, saying the temporary extension "says to business, 'We're open for business,' " but that she will continue to work "to get a good (permanent) bill later."
Of course, putting off the decision until April 30 puts one more item on the table for House Speaker Mike Madigan and Rauner to fight about this spring.
For what it's worth, all four legislative leaders—Senate President John Cullerton, Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno, House Speaker Madigan and GOP House Leader Jim Durkin—voted for today's action.
Article originally published by: Crain's Chicago Business | Greg Hinz
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Posted: January 3, 2017
Step on Toes, Get Rid of Silly Little Governments
Published by: Sun-Times, Editorial
When people run for public office, they always promise to make government more efficient and less expensive. Republican or Democrat, they say it every single time.
Then, if they win, they hope you forget they ever said it. Who? Me?
Making government more efficient and less expensive means stepping on toes. The abstract becomes specific. Jobs must be cut, budgets cut and fiefdoms wiped out. Most politicians, once elected, hate to step on toes.
Nobody should be surprised, then, that a plan hatched last summer to push the consolidation of redundant local government units, which is a particularly expensive problem in Illinois, is going nowhere. And it will continue to go nowhere unless the more principled elected officials and the public demand otherwise.
In July, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill passed in the Legislature with bipartisan support that requires every county board in Illinois to submit a report listing redundant units of local of government that could be dissolved or consolidated. Maybe, for example, there are two road districts where one would do. Or there’s a fire protection district that exists only on paper because they contract to get service from a nearby town. The county reports don’t require them to consolidate anything; it’s just a way to get everyone focused on the possibilities.
The deadline for those reports is Jan. 1. But as of last week, according to the bill’s Senate sponsor, Tom Cullerton, the only county that had filed a report was his own, DuPage. Maybe everybody else has been so bogged down with government waste and inefficiency, given all those dinky and pointless units of government, that they haven’t had time to comply with the state law.
A few days remain for a flurry of last-minute filing. Go to it, everybody.
The opportunities to save taxpayers money are real and substantial. Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of local government, far more than any other state. Our state has elected township assessors who don’t assess, local highway departments that have almost no highways and cemetery or water districts that you’d be shock to learn even exist. In Elgin, some residents are taxed by 16 different local government units.
Maybe we need another unit of government to hire accountants to help the poor people of Elgin figure out their tax bills.
Who knew, for example, that just outside Naperville for decades was the Century Hill Street Lighting District, which raised $17,000 a year in taxes to operate 77 streetlights? In June, the DuPage County Board dissolved it, turning over the assets and responsibilities to the county’s Division of Transportation, which should be able to do the job just fine — for less money.
DuPage officials say they’ve saved about $80 million over three years by getting local governmental units to share services. They’re also considering merging the DuPage Election Commission with the office of county clerk. In Cook County, voters decided on Nov. 8 to merge the recorder of deeds office into the county clerk’s office. In 2014, voters decided to dissolve Evanston Township, which had exactly the same borders as the City of Evanston.
We understand that taxpayers in some local government districts are happy with what they are getting and don’t mind paying for it. They might not want a consolidated park district, for example, if that mean a cut in services.
But myriad opportunities for consolidation and financial savings remain, without a reduction in service, among overlapping districts for mosquito-abatement, transit, schools, parks, libraries, waste-disposal, drainage, hospitals, fire protection, townships, municipalities, airports, lighting and sanitation.
Voters like the idea. In November, advisory referendums on consolidation passed in seven DuPage townships and one municipality.
All it takes is a willingness to step on toes.
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Posted: December 23, 2016
Cordoba Properties acquires 100,000 SF industrial property in Bensenville
NAI Hiffman recently announced the sale of 516-554 N York Road, a 100,000-square-foot industrial complex in Bensenville, Illinois.
NAI Hiffman Senior Vice President, John Whitehead, represented the buyer, Cordoba Properties, in the transaction. Cordoba, a private investor, was looking to diversify its holdings.
516-554 N York Road features approximately 1,500 to 3,000 square feet of built-in office space, 16’ clear ceiling height, 200-600 amps, and one dedicated exterior dock per unit.
At the time of purchase, the building was 85 percent occupied. Whitehead, along with NAI Hiffman Associate, Josh Will, have been retained to lease the remaining 15,000 square feet of vacancy. While the building remains in good condition, ownership plans for improvements to the office space and individual units on an as-needed basis.
“The new owner is excited to own an O’Hare asset so close to the airport,” Whitehead said. “The varying unit sizes give Córdoba and Hiffman flexibility to see many different prospects, which should result in increased occupancy quickly.”
Located within the O’Hare submarket, 516-554 N York Road is within close proximity to the proposed O’Hare West entrance, as well as the I-294 tollway and Interstate 90.
“Bensenville has a very low vacancy rate, currently and historically, and is in DuPage, which makes the location even more exciting due to its lower taxes,” Will added.
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Posted: December 16, 2016
Amazon to Expand Again in Illinois
The company’s presence grows to eight facilities and more than 7,000 full-time jobs in the state
December 20, 2016 Amazon, Intersect Illinois and the Illinois Department of Commerce today announced that Amazon plans to open two fulfillment centers in Aurora, Illinois. The facilities will add more than 1,000 additional full-time jobs with benefits to the state. The company currently has fulfillment centers operating in Edwardsville, Joliet and Romeoville with another fulfillment center under construction in Monee.
“In just over two years, Illinois has proven itself to be an ideal location from which Amazon can continue offering customers our vast selection and superfast shipping speeds,” said Akash Chauhan, Amazon’s vice president of North American operations. “We’re excited to be growing and creating even more full-time jobs that offer comprehensive benefits on day one as well as generous maternity and parental leave benefits.”
“Intersect Illinois has worked closely with Amazon for months to grow and maximize Amazon’s footprint in Illinois,” said Intersect Illinois CEO Jim Schultz. “Team members like Frank Cho recognized early on that Illinois and Amazon could be tremendous partners and that hard work is paying off. Illinois can offer Amazon exactly what it needs.”
“With a talented workforce, central location in the Unites States and the North American market, and a world-class transportation hub, Illinois is proving it has assets no other state can offer,” Schultz added.
During the past two years, Amazon has announced eight fulfillment centers in Illinois. Once the latest investments complete construction, Amazon will have created more than 7,000 full-time jobs for Illinoisans. Full-time employees at Amazon receive competitive hourly wages and a comprehensive benefits package, including healthcare, 401(k) and company stock awards starting on day one, as well as generous maternity and parental leave benefits.
Amazon also has a longstanding commitment of hiring military veterans and spouses for careers across the company, including at its fulfillment centers. The company recently announced a commitment to hire 25,000 military veterans and spouses in the U.S. during the next five years and train 10,000 in cloud computing.
“Today’s announcement further strengthens Illinois’ position as one of the nation’s top states for logistics and distribution,” said DCEO Director Sean McCarthy. “This has been a team effort, with DCEO and Intersect Illinois working together to make possible Amazon's continued growth in Illinois. We are excited to see Amazon expand and create thousands of good-paying jobs.”
At the nearly 1-million-square-foot facility in Aurora employees will pick, pack and ship small items to customers such as books, electronics and consumer goods. The other facility, spanning 400,000-square-feet, will specialize in handling larger items like big-screen televisions.
“The City of Warrenville is looking forward to welcoming Amazon as its newest corporate neighbor along Route 59 in the City of Aurora,” said City of Warrenville Mayor David Brummel. “This project is yet another great example of municipalities and private entities working together to improve underdeveloped areas, create jobs, and grow the local economy in a responsible and sustainable manner. Warrenville is truly excited to be part of the public/private team that will make the Amazon facilities a reality.”
Illinois competed with several other states for this project, and the Department of Commerce worked tirelessly to bring these new jobs to Illinois. The EDGE program is the State’s primary mechanism to help encourage job creation and capital investment in Illinois.
“Amazon’s investment in Aurora is a testament to our growing economy, streamlined business process and dedicated workforce,” said Aurora Mayor Robert J. O’Connor. “To bring 1,000 new jobs to Aurora at one location is unprecedented and to do so via Amazon, one of the most recognized brands in the world, is monumental. It’s just as exciting to know Amazon’s commitment and care for the communities where they have offices and the potential partnerships that will be developed throughout our city. We are absolutely thrilled with Amazon’s decision to choose Aurora for its newest venture.”
In addition to competitive wages and comprehensive benefits, Amazon also offers employees innovative programs like Career Choice, where it will pre-pay 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon. Since the program’s launch four years ago, more than 7,000 employees in 10 countries have pursued degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, to name a few.
To learn more about working at an Amazon fulfillment center, visit www.amazondelivers.jobs.
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Posted: November 7, 2016
Tiny cars may solve big transportation problem
Tiny cars may help solve a very big problem in transportation. “The first mile/last mile challenge” is an issue that says you can only take a bus or train so far. But then how do you get to your final destination, when it’s not an easy walk away?
One Chicago area company is hoping it has an affordable and environmentally friendly solution: Tiny cars that may soon drive themselves. Little Dash Cars are 100-percent all electric vehicles that come from a Burr Ridge company called Innova. They are in Itasca as part of a pilot program. WGN’s Sarah Jindra has the details.
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