TITLE 14: COMMERCE
SUBTITLE C: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER I: DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
PART 520 ENTERPRISE ZONE AND HIGH IMPACT BUSINESS PROGRAMS
SECTION 520.210 ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA


 

Section 520.210  Eligibility Criteria

 

A municipality or county may qualify an area for designation as an Enterprise Zone, subject to certification by the Department, in accordance with the criteria set forth in Section 4 of the Act and the following:

 

a)         Contiguous Area.  The area is contiguous, which means the area has a solid continuous boundary.  Boundaries shall be clearly defined and follow natural or man-made entities such as rivers, highways, and boundaries of units of government. The zone area may exclude wholly surrounded territory within its boundaries.

 

b)         Calculating Total Area.  For purposes of calculating total area, the minimum is one-half square mile and the maximum is 12 square miles, or 15 square miles if the zone is located within the jurisdiction of four or more counties or municipalities, excluding lakes or waterways.  Where the Enterprise Zone is a joint effort of three or more units of government, or two or more units of government, if located in a township divided by a municipality of 1,000,000 or more inhabitants, and where the certification has been in effect at least one year, the minimum is one-half square mile and the maximum is 13 square miles, excluding lakes and waterways. Boundaries that are connecting strips shall be not less than three, nor more than 10, feet wide.  Waterways shall not be used as connecting strips.

 

c)         Coverage of Area.  The areas must:

 

1)         be entirely within a municipality; or

 

2)         be entirely within the unincorporated areas of a county, except when reasonable need is established for the zone to cover parts of more than one municipality or county; or

 

3)         comprise all or part of a municipality and an unincorporated area of a county.        

 

d)         Required Tests.  The area must meet at least three of the following tests:

 

1)         Unemployment:  All or part of the local labor market area has had an annual average unemployment rate of at least 120% of the State's annual average unemployment rate for the most recent calendar year or the most recent fiscal year as reported by the Department of Employment Security. [20 ILCS 655/4(1)(f)(1)]

 

2)         Employment Opportunities:  Designation will result in the development of substantial employment opportunities by creating or retaining a minimum aggregate of 1,000 full-time equivalent jobs due to an aggregate investment of $100,000,000 or more, and will help alleviate the effects of poverty and unemployment within the local labor market area. [20 ILCS 655/4(1)(f)(2)]  Applicants shall specify the time periods over which full-time equivalent jobs will be created or retained and aggregate investments will be made.  These time periods should not exceed 15 years from the expected date of designation.  Applicants should submit as many written specific commitments as possible with respect to job creation or retention, as well as aggregate investment. While some consideration will be given to general projections, the Department allocates more weight for specific commitments.  Applicants are encouraged to describe how the creation and retention of full-time equivalent jobs and new investment will help alleviate the effects of poverty and unemployment with the local labor market area.

 

3)         Poverty:  All or part of the local labor market area has a poverty rate of at least 20% according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 50% or more of children in the local labor market area are eligible to participate in the federal free or reduced-price meals program according to reported statistics from the State Board of Education, or 20% or more households in the local labor market area receive SNAP benefits according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. [20 ILCS 655/4(1)(f)(3)]

 

4)         Abandoned Coal Mine, Brownfield or Federal Disaster Area:  An abandoned coal mine or a brownfield (as defined in Section 58.2 of the Environmental Protection Act [415 ILCS 5]) is located in the proposed zone area, or all or a portion of the proposed zone was declared a federal disaster area in the 3 years preceding the date of application. [20 ILCS 655/4(1)(f)(4)]  To be considered an abandoned coal mine, the coal mine must be listed on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Abandoned Mine Locator, or the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement's Abandoned Mine Lands Portal.  To document that a portion of the proposed zone was declared a federal disaster area in the three years preceding the date of the application, the applicant must provide the major disaster declaration number, the area designated as adversely affected by the major disaster, and the date of the declaration.  Applicants are encouraged to use copies of the appropriate notices in the Federal Register of a major disaster declaration and related determinations.  This does not include emergency declarations or fire management assistance declarations.  A brownfield site must be listed in the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Site Remediation Program database.  Applicants are encouraged to provide the 10-digit Illinois Environmental Protection Agency identification number (LPC #) for the site.

 

5)         Large Scale Business Closings:  The local labor market area contains a presence of large employers that have downsized over the years, the local labor market area has experienced plant closures in the 5 years prior to the date of application affecting more than 50 workers, or the local labor market area has experienced State or federal facility closures in the 5 years prior to the date of application affecting more than 50 workers. [20 ILCS 655/4(1)(f)(5)]  Applicants are encouraged to use data from filings made pursuant to the Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act [820 ILCS 65] and the State Facilities Closure Act [30 ILCS 608] as evidence of job losses under this test.

 

6)         Vacant Structures:  Based on data from Multiple Listing information or other suitable sources, the local labor market area contains a high floor vacancy rate of industrial or commercial properties, vacant or demolished commercial and industrial structures are prevalent in the local labor market area, or industrial structures in the local labor market area are not used because of age, deterioration, relocation of the former occupants, or cessation of operation. [20 ILCS 655/4(1)(f)(6)]  Vacancy prevalence rates are determined by dividing the total vacant and/or demolished square feet by the total square feet.  The applicant's vacancy rate and prevalence must meet or exceed the state's annual average vacancy rate and minimum prevalence base for each category.

 

7)         Tax Base Improvement 5 year Plan:  The applicant demonstrates a substantial plan, over the next five years from the date of designation, for using the designation to improve the State and local government tax base, including income, sales, and property taxes. [20 ILCS 655/4(1)(f)(7)]  Applicant should compare the current tax base to the final tax base after 5 years.  Applicant must address each tax category:  income, sales and property taxes.

 

8)         Public Infrastructure Improvement Plan:  Significant public infrastructure is present in the local labor market area in addition to a 5 year plan from date of designation for infrastructure development and improvement. [20 ILCS 655/4(1)(f)(8)]

 

9)         Career Skills Programs:  High schools or community colleges located within the local labor market area are engaged in ACT Work Keys, Manufacturing Skills Standard Certification, or industry-based credentials that prepare students for careers. [20 ILCS 655/4(1)(f)(9)]  The applicant must provide written documentation from more than one high school and/or community college within the local labor market area that the institution is providing ACT Work Keys, Manufacturing Skills Standard Certification, or industry-based credentials that prepare students for careers at some time during the current school year.

 

10)         Equalized Assessed Valuation:  The increase in equalized assessed valuation of industrial and/or commercial properties in the 5 years prior to the date of application in the local labor market area is equal to or less than 50% of the State average increase in equalized assessed valuation for industrial and/or commercial properties, as applicable, for the same period of time as reported by the Illinois Department of Revenue [20 ILCS 655/4(1)(f)(10)]; however, if the change in EAV in the State of industrial and/or commercial properties in the 5 years prior to the date of application is negative, then the applicant should instead demonstrate that the decrease in EAV of industrial and/or commercial properties in the 5 years prior to the date of application in the local labor market area is equal to or greater than 50% of the State average decrease in EAV for industrial and/or commercial properties, as applicable, for the same period of time as reported by the Department of Revenue.  Applicants are encouraged to use data on EAV of industrial and/or commercial properties in the local labor market area from the Illinois Department of Revenue, if the local labor market area is the entire county, or from the chief assessment official of the municipality, municipalities, county or counties in which at least a portion of the local labor market area is contained.

 

(Source:  Amended at 40 Ill. Reg. 10858, effective July 29, 2016)