DCEO Suggests Better Marketing, Tax Credit Reform To Grow Illinois' Economy

Jul 1, 2014

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Illinois' economy was slow to feel the effects of the Great Recession, and has been slow to recover from it. The state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is submitting a five-year plan to the General Assembly, with suggestions for business growth ... and more state spending.

DCEO's blueprint includes measures that stalled in the legislature this spring, including raising the minimum wage to $10-dollars an hour, doubling a tax credit for the poor and investing in major infrastructure.

Apart from a small capital spending plan, the General Assembly didn't consider a major state-funded construction program this spring. It also never tackled reforms to so-called EDGE tax credits, which incentivize job creation.

But other parts of the plan call on lawmakers to support existing business growth with tax breaks and other incentives. Department spokesman Dave Roeder says Illinois' economic success will depend on focused business expansion.

"Trying to poach business from another state is not a viable long-term strategy," he said. "Most of your growth comes from what you have already here. We have identified sectors where we are strong and we want to get stronger."

But he also says Illinois can change its business climate without the help of the general assembly, in marketing the state better.

"We want to be sure we're out there telling our story to businesses why they should be here in Illinois, what some of our main advantages are," he said.

Those advantages, Roeder says, include the state's highways and waterways, and its thriving tech community in Chicago.

The plan also includes benchmark goals, like creating 75,000  new jobs within five years, and encouraging tech startups based at the state's public universities.