City mulls business incentive blueprint
Beacon News, The (Aurora, IL) - February 9, 2001
Author: Mike Cetera
AURORA -- The city should give tax rebates only to businesses willing to move
to targeted areas, typically sections of Aurora that have been slow to grow,
according to new Aurora Economic Development Commission recommendations.
Such a philosophy could restrict incentives for businesses planning to relocate
or expand on both the far east and west sides of the city where economic
development has been strong, officials said. The guidelines presented to
aldermen this week also spell out the type of industry city officials want to attract
Priorities include manufacturing, sports and entertainment, e-commerce and
retail, among others.
"This isn't really a policy, but it provides a written foundation from which we'll
make our decisions," Mayor David Stover said.
The City Council is the final arbiter in making incentive decisions and could
override any AEDC recommendation.
The plan comes seven months after the City Council approved a controversial
tax-rebate for a far East Side sports bar.
Stover and the AEDC long opposed the plan, arguing the business wanted to
expand in an area of the city where incentives shouldn't be given.
Both backed off after the owners of Pockets sports bar decided to renovate a
vacant building adjacent to Fox Valley Center.
Even so, the debate raised questions about how the city decides which
businesses get incentives .
AEDC Executive Director Sherman Jenkins said the city designed the guidelines
to show people incentives weren't being "haphazardly" handed out.
The guidelines will help establish consistency for providing assistance, Stover
"I think it's a much-needed framework, and there's no question that at some point
in time the council will go back to it," said Alderman Chris Beykirch, whose 8th
Ward is primarily excluded from the boundary.
The recommended boundary would end at Edgelawn Drive on the west, Sullivan
Road and Interstate 88 on the north, Ashland Avenue on the south and the
Kane/DuPage County line on the east.
Beykirch said he thought the recommendations don't mean projects on the far
East Side can't receive rebate incentives .
"Frankly, it's obviously going to have to be something unique," he said.
"The fact that it's not part of a target area doesn't stop me at all."
The boundary requirement would be overlooked by the AEDC in cases where the
project is a first tenant in a business park or retail center.
"It's a way of spurring (development) on," Jenkins said.
"You don't continue giving it."
The guidelines also specify that companies must continue business in Aurora for
at least 15 years, or forfeit a portion of the rebate.
The previous benchmark had been 20 years.
The AEDC also would consider overlooking its own criteria if Aurora is competing
with another community more than 25 miles away to attract the business.
Such incentives have played a major role in attracting new business during the
last two decades.
Companies such as McDonald's and Meijer have received rebates.
The city gave $3.57 million in property-tax rebates to 23 companies between
1987 and May 2000, according to AEDC figures.
Those companies invested $111.9 million and created 2,749 jobs.
Between 1992 and May 2000, the city gave $23.8 million in sales-tax rebates to
Those companies invested $42 million and created 750 jobs.
The city has in the past has offered direct financial aid to businesses seeking to
relocate or expand.
In recent years, however, the city has offered only property-tax or sales-tax
rebates as incentives .
Officials call these low-risk deals, arguing the city treasury isn't suffering because
the property under development produced little or no revenue before the
incentive offer was made.
"It's important to offer people opportunities, not bankrolls," Beykirch said.
"It's good business."