Economic Alliance Unites Region's Leaders in Pursuit of Jobs and Investment

On Monday, March 5, 2012 - 16:00
Armed with facts, figures and a unified team of business and political leaders pulling in the same direction, the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County means business. The alliance was created to give the area’s governments and business entities a single voice when pursuing business recruitment, relocation and expansion. The regional effort also has a countywide economic development program that provid­es unique services to each of the communities in Kankakee County. The alliance has a number of tools at its disposal, including two enterprise zones that allow businesses to take advantage of state and local tax incentives and other cost savings. There is also Kankakee County’s Revolving Fund Program, which lends assistance for development and infrastructure exten­sion costs. Meanwhile, Tax Incremental Financing Districts encourage industrial and economic development by providing infrastructure improvements without the burden of a tax increase. The cost of the improvements is offset by increased revenues generated from business activity. The alliance is looking to infill as well, building from its existing industry base and developing clusters where those companies with similar products and markets can play off each other. That ties into the new growth efforts, which already are seeing major successes such as the opening of two WalMart Supercenters in the county at opposite ends of Interstate 57. Those highly visible stores and the substantial Exit 308 development are testament to the region’s buying power. Other eco­nomic development successes, such as Ambassador Steel’s decision in 2007 to expand its plant with a new product line, also bode well for the area. Major players such as Johnsonville Sausage, Glister-Mary Lee Corp. and Plochman’s Mustard have long been a part of the county’s broad manu­facturing base, variety that is further enhanced by new players such as IKO roofing and CSL Behring. The alliance touts those companies’ ongoing growth, as well as its own future programs such as an economic strategy plan for the airport in the county’s southern region. All in all, the alliance is proud of the more than $73 million capital investment in Kankakee County's commercial sector that it helped generate during its first year, and the expansions, new businesses and continuing growth taking place across a wide variety of industries.