You’ve heard the adage that it takes a village to raise a child. Ask any successful company and you’ll find the sentiment carries over into business. With a variety of incentives and resources Illinois’ business and economic development communities provide a veritable village supporting companies from the first step.
Collaboration between organizations including the State, Intersect Illinois, and local economic development organizations and communities is commonplace in the state and offers businesses vital assistance and support they need as they grow in the state. From job creation to workforce development and from research and development to international growth, Illinois has a solution.
Growing with an EDGE
One of the state’s best resources for companies is the Economic Development for Growing Economy Tax Credit Program (EDGE). The EDGE program provides annual corporate tax credits to qualifying businesses to help create jobs, support capital investment and develop training programs in the state.
The program allows for a non-refundable income tax credit of 50% of the income tax withholdings of the new job created. The percentage increases if the business expansion site is located in one of the state’s “underserved areas.” Additional credits can also be used to reimburse certain training costs.
In 2020, several companies used EDGE to bring their businesses to the state including Bergstrom Inc. which relocated its Texas production operations to Rockford, Illinois, after considering sites in South Carolina and Wisconsin. The company makes a variety of molded plastic parts and will create 57 new full-time jobs in Illinois. Another company to receive an EDGE credit is United States Cold Storage which chose to expand its Minooka, Illinois, site and create 50 new jobs rather than relocate to Indiana.
Locating in one of Illinois’ Opportunity Zones comes with benefits.
The Opportunity Zones allows companies to take advantage of three primary tax incentives designed to spur investment in low-income communities. By locating in one of these zones companies can benefit from a temporary deferral of inclusion in taxable income for capital gains, a 10% step-up basis for reinvested capital gains, and permanent exclusion from taxable income of capital gains if the investment is held for at least a decade.
Apprenticeships Get a Boost
In 2020, the state invested $4.7 million to expand the Apprenticeship Illinois Program. The expansion will serve an additional 568 residents in training programs over the next two years. DCEO is awarding the grants to 25 partner organizations to pave the way for training in new industries, while also helping more residents in underserved communities to unlock jobs in high-demand and highly paid career fields.
Since taking office, Governor Pritzker has made expanding apprenticeship training programs a priority, creating the Apprenticeship Tax Credit to incentivize employers to increase high-quality career training opportunities in Illinois. Additionally, the Illinois Works program which is funded by the Governor’s historic Rebuild Illinois capital plan will oversee efforts to increase diversity and participation in state-funded pre-apprenticeship opportunities in the building trades.
The grants will fund 17 organizations that serve as apprenticeship intermediaries and develop and deliver industry aligned curriculum to train participants; intermediaries include community colleges, local governments, and community-based organizations. The investment will also fund 8 navigator organizations that work with company-based apprenticeship programs to match them with participants in high-needs areas.
According to rankings by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Illinois is now No. 4 in the nation for exports. With exports valued at more than $58 billion in 2020, Illinois has moved up from its No. 5 spot, replacing Washington as the fourth largest exporter in the country, and maintaining its spot as the largest exporter in the Midwest.
The Illinois Office of Trade and Investment (OTI), housed within DCEO, has a strong global network including posts in six key strategic locations around the globe to provide Illinois companies an advantage toward international success. OTI trade specialists in Chicago and 6 regional foreign offices provide businesses with lead generation support and connects companies to foreign partners around the world.
The Illinois State Trade and Export Program (ISTEP) provides financial and technical assistance to eligible small businesses. Some of theses services include market research, product compliance certifications and opportunities to participate in trade missions. Since 2019, the State and its Office of Trade and Investment have deployed over $1.6 million in funding to Illinois exporters, with ISTEP financial assistance reaching 200 small businesses annually. This support helps businesses increase sales and new jobs, while boosting Illinois’ international profile.
“Through one-on-one guidance and support from the DCEO Office of Trade and Investment, we have participated in numerous international trade shows over the last five years, which have led to an increase of several millions in sales that would not have been otherwise possible,” said Brandon Sachtleben, Contract Administrator of Red Bud Industries, Red Bud Illinois, a leader in manufacturing of coil processing equipment for over 60 years. “And, to further expand in new markets, we are currently working with OTI on customized website localizations to offer platforms in native languages and layouts for territories we had previously targeted. With OTI as a trusted partner, we look forward to continued success for decades to come.”
Femi Morgan, President and CEO of Green Innovation and Technology Company (GITEK Inc.), also expressed appreciation for the program. GITEK is based in South Holland and provides affordable food processing technology and renewable energy solutions to reduce dependence on fossil fuel for food and agricultural processing.
“We are grateful for the tailored support and resources that we received from by DCEO’s Office of Trade and Investment,” said Morgan. “Thanks to OTI’s expertise, knowledge of the marketplace and match-making services, we have expanded our export market in Africa to include a presence in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, and look forward to continued growth in the years ahead.”
Savannah King is managing editor of custom content for Conway Inc. She is an award-winning journalist and previously wrote for The Times in Gainesville, Ga. She graduated from the University of West Florida with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and lives near Atlanta.