CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn extended Illinois' longstanding tax incentive program for businesses in so-called enterprise zones, saying it plays a key role in creating jobs in the state.

The law, which took effect immediately, extended the program that began in 1982 for 25 years. It essentially gives businesses within the designated areas tax breaks, including an exemption on the retailers' occupation tax paid on building materials and a tax credit for jobs created.

"We have to have an economic climate in our state that's predictable and certain and allows for major investment by big employers and not-so-big employers ... they need certainty if they are going to make investments," Quinn said at the Ford Motor Co. plant in Chicago.

Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, planned to hold similar events Tuesday in Rockford, Peoria, Decatur, Mount Vernon and the Quad Cities.

The move comes as Illinois faces continual economic image problems: billions in unpaid bills, a grossly-underfunded pension system and public campaigns to attract business to the state. And Quinn has spent much time defending the state's business climate especially after Peoria-based heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc., decided earlier this year to bypass Illinois as a location for a new plant and its estimated 1,400 jobs.

Illinois has 97 enterprise zones, which had been set to expire next year.

The new law creates a board to oversee the process of determining which companies are eligible and allows for a handful more zones. It also beefs up reporting requirements of companies receiving tax benefits from the program.

The bill faced little opposition in the General Assembly and similar programs are common in numerous other states.

Ford officials said Tuesday that the enterprise zone program has helped them stay competitive.

Quinn said that they have helped create and retain jobs. Businesses within enterprise zones have created more than 350,000 jobs, according to estimates from Quinn's office.


The bill is SB3616.



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