City Ready to Work to Keep Enterprise Zone Status

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Published on June 3 2014 7:57 pm
Last Updated on June 3 2014 7:57 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The long-awaited process by the State of reviewing whether communities should continue to have Enterprise Zones as an economic development tool is inching forward, and the City of Effingham is ready to work to attract a new Zone.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has a process in place to decide what communities will get one of 47 Enterprise Zones to be awarded after the current zones expire after 2016. The Effingham City Council voted Tuesday night to hire Economic Development Resources to assist the City in putting together the best presentation possible.  The firm will be paid $67,500.

City Economic Development Director Todd Hull said the application process is expected to take the rest of 2014, then a Board that will review the application will have until the end of 2015 to decide who gets a zone. A five-member panel appointed by the Governor will decide the matter. Two department directors will be on the panel along with three other individuals; one from Chicago, one from the collar counties, and one representing the rest of us.

The applications will be judged on a point system, but there are already warnings that just because you do well on the point system, don't be sure you'll get one of the Zones.

Hull and City Administrator Jim Arndt agree that the Effingham City-County Enterprise Zone has been one of the best economic development tools the community has had since it was created in 1988.

The Council also Tuesday agreed to a $25,000 contribution to the Effingham City/County Committee on Aging for services for seniors, but also agreed to allocate $5,000 to Meals on Wheels to help make sure the program continues. A vote on the allocations should come at the next Council meeting.

Council members agreed to support the resurfacing of the remainder of Park Hills Subdivision not resurfaced earlier. City Engineer Jeremy Heuerman said the streets include Bent Tree, Crestwood, Pleasant View and Sherwood. A portion of the Fire Station #3 parking lot will also be resurfaced, although not likely the entire lot as was first suggested.

Arndt gave a 4th quarter financial report indicating that the City ended the fiscal year in pretty good shape, although there were concerns over a less than robust water fund. A recent water rate hike could help address that situation.

City Tourism Director Jodi Jackson reported on activities to promote Effingham, including an international reach out this Friday in London, England. Jackson said products from Mid America Motorworks and John Boos and Company will be on display on a block in London dedicated to Illinois. She also reported that a television show in Chicagoland known as "Check Please" is focusing on Firefly Grill soon, and that one of Effingham's Effingham Pig went to Holland this year.

City Commissioner Matt Hirtzel reminded of a Drive, Chip and Putt contest next week at Effingham Country Club that could qualify some young golfer for play at the home of The Masters in Augusta, Georgia next spring; City Commissioner Brian Milleville asked for a reminder to motorists that with school out, to be extra watchful for children; and Mayor Merv Gillenwater reminded of a Town Hall Meeting Wednesday night at City Hall sponsored by State Senators Dale Righter and Kyle McCarter.