I saw this on WCBU-FM’s Website:
Peoria State Senator Dave Koehler is part of a special Senate Committee charged with extending and streamlining Enterprise Zones. That comes as eight of the zones are set to expire next year, including one in Peoria and another in Canton. Enterprise Zones are specially designated areas where employers receive targeted tax relief, fast-tracked reviews of some state and local permit applications, and improved government service. Koehler in a statement says coming up with a comprehensive plan to extend and improve the Enterprise Zone program will put people to work and help attract business to Illinois. Koehler’s committee will hold hearing around the state on the issue beginning in mid-March.
Dave, I know you got yourself appointed to this committee specifically so you could look out for the City of Peoria’s interests. Unfortunately, what the city council tells you is in the city’s interests are not exactly in the interests of the citizen’s of Peoria. It is certainly not in the interests of poor Peorians, nor is it in the spirit in which the enterprise zone law was intended.
Enterprise zones are supposed to build up blighted area. They bring constructions jobs to areas that don’t see a lot of construction, and they provide walking-distance jobs for residents of these same blighted areas.
That is NOT what is happening in Peoria. Ask anyone in a position of power about them, and they throw up their hands about how helpless they are in this economy. But they will conspire to stretch out the city’s enterprise zones to areas that are not blighted in the least.
They gave an enterprise zone to Sheridan Village, which rests along Lake Street, so HyVee could build a new supermarket. Meanwhile they are closing supermarkets all over the East Bluff — the truly blighted neighborhood YOU served as a city councilman.
They even gave enterprise zone to the owners of Double A’s Pizza — so they could move from one location on North Pioneer Parkway a few blocks up the road on Radnor Road. Radnor Road is so far north it wasn’t even within the city. It’s closest neighbors are a string a shopping centers and offices — hardly blighted. And the stated reason they gave the owner an enterprise zone? Well, everyone else was getting one.
In Peoria, enterprise zones are not used to prevent poverty. They are used to perpetuate it. They move jobs to the north toward Dunlap, when the city ought to be figuring out how to keep them in the city.
So, Dave, I ask you. Please, please, please use your position on this panel to argue for some real oversight. Create some rules to insist that enterprise zones be used to increase business opportunities in neighborhoods like the East Bluff, the West Bluff, Averyville, Old Town North and the South Side.
And please, create some sort of oversight to make sure that the sales tax breaks these businesses get for construction actually go toward sales actually related to construction.
Thank you for listening.