RIVER EDGE PROGRAM
In 2006, the Illinois General Assembly established a pilot program
for East St. Louis to revitalize its riverfront. Called the River
Edge Redevelopment Zone, the City of East St. Louis and the State
of Illinois will offer a host of incentives to businesses and developers
to attract new businesses and economic activity. The incentives
include sales tax exemption on building materials, an investment
and jobs tax credit and various other deductions and property tax
abatements. Companies or individuals in the zone could also be eligible
for an environmental remediation tax credit for certain clean-up
costs. The total project funding for River Edge could reach $25
Support the continued funding of the grants and tax credits for
the River Edge Program in East St. Louis.
The Municipal Brownfield Grant program reimburses developers for
the costs associated with the cleanup of brownfield sites. This
brownfield program provides a “win-win” situation for the state
of Illinois, local jurisdictions and the private sector. Environmental
problems can be properly cleaned up; commercial development can
be promoted; older industrial sites can be competitive with green
field sites; local communities can be revitalized; and new tax revenues
can be generated. For fiscal year 2007 only $1 million was left
in the fund, and the last new grants under program were distributed.
Without an additional appropriation, contaminated properties in
Southwestern Illinois will remain vacant or underutilized.
Support increased funding for the Municipal Brownfield Redevelopment
Grant program in the capital budget bill.
Illinois has lagged behind the nation in attracting and stimulating
venture capital investments. The Illinois Opportunity Fund, a private
venture capital fund, was created last year by the General Assembly.
The Illinois Opportunity Fund will be a “fund of funds,” to raise
nearly $200 million from private sector investors. The funds will
be managed by private sector experts and would invest in a diverse
cross section of existing venture capital funds that commit to investing
in Illinois based companies. Besides increasing the availability
of venture capital, Illinois can do much more to create entrepreneurial
culture, such as increasing assistance and program offerings at
the small business development centers and entrepreneurship centers.
Support funding for the Illinois Opportunity Fund to match increased
venture capital investment opportunities in Illinois. Support policies
that increase access to seed capital for new technology-based enterprises.
Increase funding to entrepreneurship centers and to the Innovation
Challenge Grant program.
For Southwestern Illinois to remain competitive in attracting high-technology
companies, the availability of reliable, state-of the art telecommunications
infrastructure must be in place. High-speed telecommunications
are essential for business productivity and options. The last rewrite
of the telecommunications regulations in Illinois occurred in 1985—ancient
history in this dynamic and inventive industry.
Support policies that encourage investment in technology infrastructure
and promote customer choice. Support reform of telecommunications
regulations to spur competition and to adequately address the current
marketplace in the telecommunications industry.
NATIONAL CORN-TO-ETHANOL CENTER
Conducting its own research to improve the benefits of fuel ethanol
production and usage, the National Corn-to-Ethanol Center (NCERC)
in Edwardsville is the only pilot facility in the world that fully
emulates both a wet mill and dry-grind commercial fuel ethanol production
plant. As the biobased industry develops in the 21st century, the
NCERC is uniquely positioned to provide scale-up validation and
certification and to move new technologies from laboratories to
commercial applications. The unique status of the Corn-to-Ethanol
Center brings researchers from across the world and the potential
for new discoveries in ethanol production. The Center is also a
key asset in the St. Louis BioBelt, attracting researchers, grants,
and partnerships with companies from around the world. Last year,
the Illinois General Assembly appropriated $1 million to the Corn-To-Ethanol
Center operations and $3 million for capital improvements to their
facility, but continued funding from the General Assembly is needed
for the NCERC to further its mission.
Support continued funding for the National Corn-To-Ethanol Center
to continue its research into fuel ethanol production and usage.
Illinois has a 250-year supply of coal, the largest bituminous coal
resource of any state in the United States. Coal not only plays
a vital role as an energy source, but the industries involved in
mining, transportation and the use of coal provide thousands of
jobs in Southwestern Illinois communities. With new clean-burning
coal plants and new gasification processes, coal has become an attractive
energy option. The Department of Energy will soon choose a site
for a 275-megawatt, near-zero-emissions, pilot plant that will gasify
coal to produce both electricity and surplus hydrogen for uses such
as fuel cells. Southern Illinois would be an ideal location for
this new pilot plant. Additionally, construction has began on the
Prairie State Energy Campus, a 1,500 plus-megawatt generating plant
and coal mine that will provide clean, low-cost electricity using
state-of-the-art technologies. This over $2 billion project is the
largest private capital project ever planned for Southern Illinois,
estimated to inject nearly $100 million annually into the Illinois
economy, create approximately 1,700 jobs at peak construction and
permanently house more than 450 skilled jobs paying substantially
above the state average.
Support efforts to attract the FutureGen project in downstate
Illinois. Continue support for state grants allocated to the project
for capital costs.
Infrastructure is essential to the economic vitality of Southwestern
Illinois and surrounding areas. For the region to continue growing
additional bridge, highway, and mass transit projects need to be
completed such as: (1) the New Mississippi River Bridge, (2) additional
lanes for IL 3 in Waterloo, (3) additional lanes and reconstruction
of IL 159 in Collinsville, (4) three new bridges to complete the
U.S. Route 67 bypass in Jerseyville, (5) a new bridge over U.S.
Route 40 and the CSX railroad east of IL 127 (College Avenue) in
Greenville, (6) the Gateway Connector for Madison and St. Clair
Counties, (7) expansion of the MetroLink from Scott Air Force Base
to MidAmerica Airport in St. Clair County; and (8) increased funding
for Madison and St. Clair counties’ transit districts.
Support funding in the capital bill for transportation projects
in Southwestern Illinois to augment the region’s economic growth.
Support the region’s listed projects in Illinois Department of Transportation
Highway Improvement Program for Fiscal Years 2006- 2011. Support
increased funding for public transportation in Madison and St. Clair
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY EDWARDSVILLE
The mission of Southern Illinois Edwardsville (SIUE) is to become
a nationally-recognized, premier metropolitan university. A major
component of this goal is the improvement of its science facility
and the continued growth of the Pharmacy School. The capacity and
functionality of SIUE’s science facility is severely strained by
increased student enrollment and the importance of laboratory experiences
for general education. The $55 million renovation and expansion
program for the science building calls for state-of-the-art teaching
classrooms and laboratories, research laboratories, faculty offices
and support spaces. Planning money for architectural renderings
and engineering work has already begun; however, construction of
the Science Lab will need to be funded from an appropriation from
the state’s capital budget. The School of Pharmacy expands SIUE’s
education and public service to the St. Louis region and central/southern
Illinois. The first class entered in 2005 with 80 students, using
existing facilities. Presently, $2.5 million of continuing funding
is required for SIUE to continue its pharmacy programs. A new building
in University Park is planned for the Pharmacy School which will
house the laboratories and other essential equipment.
Support funding in the state capital budget bill of $55 million
for the renovation of office, classroom, laboratory space, support
services and the expansion of the Science Laboratory and Classroom
Building. Support continued state funding of the SIUE School of
Pharmacy with an appropriation of $2.5 million in continuing funds
from the Board of Higher Education. Support SIUE’s efforts to become
a NCAA Division I athletic program.
REGULATION OF ISOLATED WETLANDS
Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group (IERG) and a coalition of
other business interests and associations have developed a proposal
to submit to the General Assembly in response to the United States
Supreme Court’s decision in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook
County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers. The U.S. Supreme
Court ruled that certain waters of the United States—referred to
as isolated waters—would no longer be subject to the jurisdiction
of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permitting procedures under
the Clean Water Act. The Supreme Court decision created a regulatory
gap, but business groups agree that certain wetlands deserve regulatory
oversight. The appropriate regulatory agency should be the Illinois
EPA to allow consistent, statewide regulations of isolated wetlands.
A consistent policy would enable a fair and level-playing field
for development of wetlands.
Support legislation that establishes a balanced approach towards
regulating and developing wetlands.
Illinois has gained a national reputation as being receptive to
nationwide class action suits that possess a tenuous connection
to the court in which the lawsuit was filed. The mismanagement of
class actions in Illinois courts has the potential to not only taint
the national perception of Illinois’ judicial system, but also impact
economic development efforts to retain or attract businesses.
Support appropriate changes to the state’s judicial systems to
foster a positive economic development climate.
Ensure adequate Medicaid reimbursement to hospitals in Madison
and St. Clair Counties and to St. Louis hospitals serving Illinois
patients. Assist small business owners with lowering double-digit
increases in their health care costs. Support legislation to amend
the Hospital Tax Exempt Responsibility Act which mandates hospitals
to provide 8% of their operating costs to charity care. Oppose new
health insurance mandates and liability that undermines employers’
abilities to provide high-quality health insurance at a reasonable
cost to their employees.