Upon completion, the Whiteside Carroll Enterprise Zone application consisted of ten four inch binders, and according to Gary Camarano, Whiteside Carroll Enterprise Zone Administrator, “It ‘took a village’, and a city, and a county, and several other partners and stakeholders to complete. It was truly a collaborative effort. We had Betty Steinert (former EZ Administrator) acting as a consultant on the application, contributions from Robin Hanna at Western Illinois University, Brian Harger from Northern Illinois University, Mayors and Village Presidents in the zone, and other Economic Development partners. When our consultant delivered her final version of the application to our office shortly before the due date, that’s when our review and editing team got to work. After making several revisions, additions, and corrections to syntax, grammar and spelling, we probably picked-up 40 more points in the scoring, which placed as number five in the rankings. The top six scores out of twelve applications were approved by the Enterprise Zone Board. When completed, the 40 inch application was hand delivered to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in late December of 2016, and we can now officially announce the approval of the Whiteside Carroll Enterprise Zone 2018.”
Zone Performance Improves
The Whiteside Carroll County Enterprise Zone performance improved in the first eight months of 2017, eclipsing full year results of 2015 and 2016. The Enterprise Zone’s 17 projects, $25,320,672 in investment, and 242 jobs created and retained in the first eight months of 2017 compares favorably to 2015’s 17 projects, $13,437,388 invested, and 67 jobs created and retained, and 2016’s 15 projects, $18,173,037 invested, and 175 jobs created and retained. The economic outlook remains favorable for the region, with unemployment down below pre-recession 2008 levels, and local manufacturers reporting additional hiring, new orders and revenue growth. Additionally, there have been several quality of life projects completed or announced including Rock Falls’ RBW District Riverfront Development and ‘Gigabit City’, Sterling’s Lawrence Lofts project, Morrison’s Arts District, and Morrison Institute of Technology’s Innovation Center. Also of importance, the former Stanley Black & Decker facility, located east of Rocks Falls, has been sold after sitting vacant for nearly eight years. The new owner has started cleanup and renovations, and is recruiting businesses for the location.
The Whiteside Carroll Enterprise Zone will soon announce a schedule for a series of “Enterprise Zone Workshops,” which will explain the features and benefits of the Enterprise Zone, and review other local and State incentives, as well as financing mechanisms that could provide assistance to new businesses, or businesses relocating or expanding to the region and its Enterprise Zones. Camarano explained, “Our Enterprise Zone team is always striving to improve customer service, provide information to assist businesses, and to help the private sector create and retain jobs. So far I think we’re meeting our goals.”
Information about the Whiteside Carroll Enterprise Zone can be found at https://www.whiteside.org/departments/economic-development.html or by calling (815) 772-5182.