Urbana City Council seeks applications for enterprise zone

By Edwin Hsieh

The Urbana City Council discussed an update to a proposed enterprise zone program, aimed at generating the local economy and improving neighborhood growth in Champaign County at its Monday meeting.

Council members hope to expand the current enterprise zone, which currently covers about three square miles from University Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, Cunningham Avenue and Philo Road.

According to the update, the Urbana Enterprise Zone Property Tax Abatement Programs is seeking applications from local taxing agencies to give financial incentives that will encourage its property owners to “make permanent improvements that increase the overall property tax base and expand job opportunities in Urbana.” 

The following taxing agencies are currently deciding whether they will participate in the program: the Champaign County, the Urbana School District, the Urbana Park District, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Parkland College and Cunningham Township.

Applications for the Enterprise Zone are due Dec. 31.

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Elizabeth Tyler, community development director, gave a presentation regarding progress, updates and a timeline of the enterprise zone. 

“Meetings with tax partners are ongoing, and all taxing partners are expected to vote on the issue of whether to participate in the Zone in mid-to-late November,” said Tyler.

One of the main focuses of the enterprise application is job creation. According to the update, commercial and industrial projects that aim to create full-time jobs in Urbana are eligible for the tax abatements in the zone.

“A qualifying, full-time job is one that pays at least $10 per hour, and we would not, by definition, recognize nine dollars per hour jobs under the proposal,” said Brandon Boys, economic development manager.

Staff will bring finalized materials back to City Council at the end of November for consideration, anticipating a final Council decision in early December, according to Tyler.

Edwin can be reached at [email protected].