IL Unveils New Private, Nonprofit Partnership to Support Economic Competitiveness

February 04, 2016

At his State of the State address last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced that Illinois’ principal economic development organization, the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, as well as some of the state’s business leaders will collaborate to organize a newly formed private, nonprofit organization exclusively focused on increasing Illinois’ competitiveness for job creation and investment. A key recommendation of the governor's bipartisan transition committee last year, the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation (ILBEDC) is modeled from other successful state and local economic development organizations and will focus on sales, marketing and customer service.

According to the press release announcing the group’s formation, ILBEDC will maintain strict standards of transparency and accountability, including robust conflict of interest policies, public disclosure of donors, and application of other transparency laws. A 2013 report by the nonprofit think tank Good Jobs First found that a lack of transparency at privatized state economic development agencies, among other things, has led to a misuse of taxpayer funds.

At least through FY16, the formation of the ILBEDC and its operations will be funded entirely by private donations. Until the ILBEDC is operational, the Department of Commerce will continue to maintain all of its existing duties, including working with companies on expansion and relocation efforts. Once the new group becomes operational, the Department of Commerce will still administer federal programs and will have final authority over all state grants and incentives negotiated by the ILBEDC.

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