SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Pamela Althoff, a McHenry Republican, will co-chair a committee trying to extend the state’s enterprise zones — areas that come with tax breaks meant to try to fuel development.
Enterprise zones give businesses in the area state and local tax exemptions, and a handful are in the suburbs, including in Elgin, Hoffman Estates and Waukegan.
The Hoffman Estates zone includes Prairie Stone Business Park and Sears Holdings Corp. It expires in 2020, and the most-used incentive is one that provides a sales tax exemption on building materials for construction in the area, in the hopes of fostering future development.
The effort comes as corporate tax breaks of various kinds were hotly debated at the end of last year. The enterprise zones weren’t part of the debate last year, when lawmakers granted controversial local property tax breaks and state income tax relief for Sears and for Chicago’s main financial exchanges as some lawmakers argued a broader tax overhaul was needed.
The Elgin enterprise zone includes parts of the east side of the city. And the Waukegan area includes much of downtown, including the lakefront, and parts of neighboring North Chicago.
Althoff said that as a former mayor of McHenry, she believes in the importance of the enterprise zones for businesses.
“I really do understand how important enterprise zones can be as tools to local entities to spur that economic development that we are all looking for here in Illinois,” Althoff said.
The proposal Althoff is backing would renew zones for an additional 25 years, subject to approval by state and local officials. And it would create 10 more zones over 10 years.
Her committee plans to have several hearings downstate and one in Chicago in the coming months.
Daily Herald State Government Writer Mike Riopell contributed.