HB 690 promises economic growth

Daily Eastern News

Editorial Board

July 18, 2005

At issue

The governor recently passed House Bill 690, creating the Eastern Illinois Economic Development Authority, which helps Coles County and nine others to promote economic development.

Our stance

The House Bill was a good move on the Governor’s part, and the EIEDA board will help Coles and other counties to create jobs and better the communities involved.

Editorial

Governor Rod Blagojevich recently signed a bill that will help 10 Eastern Illinois counties to prosper. House Bill 690 was signed July 13 and will affect Ford, Iroquois, Piatt, Champaign, Vermilion, Douglas, Moultrie, Shelby, Coles and Edgar counties.

The Daily Eastern News would like to applaud the Illinois government for passing this bill, and the governor for signing it.

HB 690 created the Eastern Illinois Economic Development Authority (EIEDA), and authorizes it to borrow up to $250 million in order to promote economic development projects.

The EIEDA board will have the power to buy, sell, lease or develop land; administer grants; help companies prepare financing packages and conduct other types of economic development activities. This money will bring more jobs into Coles County because local business operators can receive grants from the EIEDA board. The money resulting from HB 690 will give those who wish to start a business an opportunity to do so, by offering a different route to take in acquiring money to start a business.

The EIEDA board will consist of 14 members, which includes the Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, one member from each of its 10 counties appointed by the County Board chairs, and three members appointed by Gov. Blagojevich.

One large advantage of the EIEDA board is each of the 10 counties it affects gets to have a local representative as a member. No one understands a region’s needs better than the people who live there. Local representatives on the board can ensure resources are sent where they are needed most to bring more jobs and economic growth into the 10 counties.

Appointed board members will have the knowledge to use the newly-appointed power because the legislation states that appointees must have ability and experience in one or more of the following areas: economic development, finance, banking, industrial development, state or local government, commercial agriculture, small-business management, real estate development, community development, venture finance, organized labor or civic and community organization.

Other regional authorities use general obligation bonds to raise funds to support themselves. General obligation bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the state, which means taxpayers pay for most of the upkeep.

The EIEDA board doesn’t put state taxpayers on the hook for any borrowed funds. Before any bonds are issued, arrangements for repayment must be made. If a company wanted to buy or borrow property, it would establish a long-term lease with the board to repay the bonds. As a result of this, the company would have fewer up-front costs and could repay the bond over time.

HB 690, which is already in effect, was sponsored by State Representative Roger Eddy (R-Hutsonville) and State Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon).