SPRINGFIELD – In an aggressive effort to restore economic opportunity and promote job creation in and around the former Savanna Army Depot, Governor Rod Blagojevich today announced that a section of the Depot currently housing new businesses is being designated as an Enterprise Zone. The Enterprise Zone distinction will lend critical income and job creation tax credits to companies located within the zone and immediately increase the competitiveness of the emerging businesses located there.
Redeveloping the Savanna Army Depot was one of more than 30 initiatives included in the Governor’s Opportunity Returns plan, the regional economic development strategy designed to spur growth and create jobs in the Northwest region, announced by the Governor last October.
“When the Savanna Army Depot was closed, the local economy lost hundreds of jobs. Today, with the creation of the Enterprise Zone, we are paving the way for those job losses to be recovered and countless more to be created. The Enterprise Zone will be a tremendous asset for the young companies now residing here, allowing them to reduce their total expenses and improve their bottom lines. The Enterprise Zone is another major step in the revitalization of the old Army Depot and should act as a linchpin of widespread growth for the local economy,” Governor Blagojevich said.
An enterprise zone is typically introduced in areas where there is economic redevelopment potential but incentives are needed to stimulate investment. Chief benefits of an enterprise zone include sales tax exemptions and tax credits for job creation. A 6.25% state sales tax exemption is permitted on building materials to be used in an Enterprise Zone, while the Enterprise Zone Jobs Tax Credit allows a business a $500 credit on Illinois income taxes for each job created in the Zone for which a certified eligible worker is hired. The credit may be carried forward for up to five years.
“The creation of this Enterprise Zone is a tremendous business development tool. The incentives offered to businesses within the Enterprise Zone in the form of job creation and sales tax credits are often critical difference makers for companies evaluating the best environment to locate their businesses and will bring more jobs into this community,” said State Senator Denny Jacobs (D-Moline).
“Business activity has been dormant in the old Army Depot for several years. The Governor understands that in order to see it flourish here again, we had to provide the first spark. Creating the Enterprise Zone is a savvy device that will do just that. The rejuvenation of the Depot is well underway, “said State Rep. Mike Boland (D-Moline).
The designated enterprise zone covers the area of the former Depot now known as Eagles Landing, the parcel of land that was converted to civilian use when the Depot closed in 2000 and the land was up for redevelopment. Upon announcement of closure of the Army Depot, the Jo-Carroll Depot Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) was established to facilitate reuse and redevelopment of the former Savanna Army Depot installation. The initial LRA developed a strategic land use plan to convert a portion of the former Savanna Army Depot property to civilian uses. As the key point of contact, the LRA manages and markets the property promoting early and long-term job creation and effective land utilization. The LRA's overriding objectives are economic development, quality employment and improving property values in consideration of the surrounding environment for Carroll and Jo Daviess Counties. Last year, the LRA completed the property transfer agreement with the Army and privatized the initial parcel of land and buildings. Both were significant milestones in positioning the property for development.
"We’re grateful to the State of Illinois, Governor Blagojevich, and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) for all their efforts to successfully create an Enterprise Zone at the former Savanna Army Depot. The creation of the Enterprise Zone, in conjunction with the numerous benefits accruing to all the companies within the Zone, will stimulate business and commerce throughout the region and, conjunctively, create many needed jobs for the Northwest region of Illinois,” said Louis W. Giokas, Chairman and CEO of Savanna Deport Technology Corporation, a business located within the new Enterprise Zone.
“In crafting an economic development plan that has real teeth, financial wherewithal is important, but a plan capable of generating real and sustained opportunity needs to blend financial commitments with innovative policy solutions to tackle local challenges and stimulate growth. The creation of the Enterprise Zone is an example of how Opportunity Returns is looking outside the box to spur business activity and job creation in the Northwest region and throughout the state. A large area of land that sat vacant a short time ago is now the site of a major economic revitalization. This is something the whole community can take pride in,” DCEO Director Jack Lavin said.
Congress identified the Savanna Army Depot for closure in July 1995 under the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). It officially closed on March 18, 2000.
The Savanna Army Depot Activity is a 13,062-acre installation located on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River and is located in Carroll and Jo Daviess Counties, approximately seven miles north of Savanna, Illinois. The U.S. Army purchased the property in 1917 for use as a proof and test facility for cannons manufactured in the Rock Island Arsenal. Savanna is 14 miles long and 4 miles wide for that purpose. Operations at the installation expanded to ordnance storage facilities and loading and renovating shells and bombs. The mission of the installation changed to a depot facility in 1921.
The Opportunity Returns regional economic development plan is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – finding areas with common economic strengths and needs, and developing a plan with specific actions for each region. This grassroots effort for the Northwest region was the product of significant outreach over several months with business, civic and labor leaders, and elected officials. The more than 30 projects that the Governor announced last October for Northwestern Illinois are designed to be flexible and effective. This plan is tailored to deliver real results that local businesses will see, feel, and, hopefully, profit from.