By MELISSA CROCKETT MESKE
The Madison County Board recently approved an ordinance adding approximately 1,000 acres to the Riverbend Enterprise Zone. The expansion includes property to the east and south of the enterprise zone.
“The reason the change took place is that patterns in development are shifting within the enterprise zone,” Community Development Administrator Christopher Otto said. He pointed out that officials from Hartford, Roxana and Wood River had proposed the expansion request.
In addition to the county, all municipalities within the enterprise zone must approve the change along with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. All the municipalities that voted for the expansion include Alton, Bethalto, East Alton, Hartford, Roxana, South Roxana and Wood River.
Hartford Mayor Bill Robertson said that the village’s request for expansion was due to anticipated expansion and growth within their portion of the zone’s footprint. “5 Diamond Campgrounds is wanting to expand, to essentially double its size, so this can help them out in doing so. We’re also in conversation with a company that is looking at locating in the New Poag Road area, and this could help make that happen.”
Wood River’s City Manager Steve Palen said that they have had numerous inquiries from prospects looking at site locations throughout the city that would now be a part of this expanded Riverbend Enterprise Zone. “We are hoping that these additional incentives will help push some of them past the finish line.”
“Businesses located or expanding in an Illinois enterprise zone may be eligible for state and local incentives,” Otto explained. “These could include property tax abatement, sales tax exemptions, investment tax credit, utility tax exemptions and more.”
Otto said, since 2019, this marked the second expansion within the Riverbend Enterprise Zone. The first was approving the expansion of 160 acres along Illinois Route 111, including St. Louis Regional Airport.
The state designated the Riverbend Enterprise Zone as an Illinois Enterprise Zone on Jan. 1, 2016. The state’s Enterprise Zone Program is designed to stimulate economic growth and neighborhood revitalization in economically depressed areas of the state through state and local tax incentives, regulatory relief and improved governmental services.
Along with Riverbend, there are three other enterprise zones — Gateway, Southwestern and Discovery.
“The county has approved the expansion of each of the enterprise zones since their creation,” Otto said. “The intent of an enterprise zone is to attract businesses or provide incentives for them to stay or expand.”
This story also appears in the June 2023 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.