One of the Greater Freeport Partnership’s goals is to be the resource for business data.  This monthly update will strive to provide some of this information.  

Employment Data
If you are interested in detailed employment data, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) publishes monthly data on its website (www.ides.illinois.gov).  For May, the news is very positive. Stephenson County’s unemployment rate of 3.9% for May is the lowest since May 1998, representing about 850 unemployed people (which does not count people not looking for work).  At the same time, in the Rockford Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), employers advertised for 7,000 open jobs.  The Partnership’s greatest priority will continue to be assisting our employers in finding qualified workers for their openings, so our robust local economy can continue.

City of Freeport Building Permit Update

From the beginning of the year through the end of June, the City of Freeport has issued 293 building permits for approximately $10 million of investments and improvements in the community, including everything from minor residential remodels to a $2 million expansion of Tri-Star Metals, Inc. on Lamm Road.

Economic Development Incentives Information

As of today, new commercial investors in Freeport and Stephenson County can apply to take advantage of ten different Tax Increment Financing Districts (5 in Freeport and 5 in the rest of the County) and the Northwest Illinois Enterprise Zone (NWIL Enterprise Zone).  These incentives can be a valuable tool in attracting and retaining well-paying jobs to the area. Maps of the eligible areas can be found here:  https://greaterfreeport.com/incentives/

 Currently, less than 4.5% of property in the City of Freeport is in one of its five TIF Districts.  In addition, the City of Freeport rebates back 25% of the increment collected each year in 4 of the 5 Districts to the other taxing bodies under a revenue-sharing agreement, totaling nearly $200K in 2018.  The County’s TIF Districts in Orangeville, Pearl City, Lena, Winslow and Mill Race Industrial Park collected a total of $1.36 million in tax increment in 2018. 

The NWIL Enterprise Zone is currently set to expire on 12/31/19.  The EZ Board has applied for a new zone, to start 1/1/20.  This application has been advanced to the State’s Enterprise Zone Board for consideration and a decision is due by 9/30/19.

 Opportunity Zones

In early 2018, three census tracts in the downtown Freeport area were designated as Opportunity Zones, allowing for capital gains tax sheltering to spur investment in business and real estate.  This designation was created by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Also, a map of the zones in Freeport can be found at this link.

This investment vehicle will be highlighted in future news from the Partnership as we continue to look for ways to attract business. 

Please contact me at rmotley@greaterfreeport.com or 815-233-1356 with comments or questions.

About the Author

Rebecca Motley
Rebecca Motley
Rebecca Motley is the Executive Director at the Greater Freeport Partnership, having relocated from Central Illinois in mid-2018. She has over 25 years’ experience in small business ownership, banking, non-profit management, real estate investment and economic development and holds a B.S. in economics and an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Rebecca is charged with the vision, direction and funding of the Partnership’s goals to promote Stephenson County and support businesses.