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DeKalb County Enterprise Zone building materials savings benefit projects of all sizes

DeKalb County has welcomed significant development projects in recent years – an accomplishment to be celebrated by all – with many attracted by the existence of the DeKalb County Enterprise Zone. While the enterprise zone offers numerous potential benefits, such as various abatements and credits, but one notable incentive can be taken advantage of by all projects big and small, new and existing businesses: Illinois sales tax exemptions on qualified building materials.

Since its creation in 2016, businesses in all participating DeKalb County Enterprise Zone municipalities – Cortland, Genoa, DeKalb, Sandwich, Sycamore, and Waterman – have used the Building Materials Exemption Certificate (BMEC) incentive as part of their location within the zone. BMECs allow applicants working on enterprise zone projects to purchase qualified building materials at reduced costs, saving potentially thousands of dollars in construction costs.

Qualified building materials generally include any materials intended to be permanent fixtures in the project construction. These can include common construction materials such as lumber, cement, and sheet metal; plumbing and heating systems; electrical systems; built-in appliances; permanent floor coverings; large computer server systems; and much more. The use of a BMEC relieves some of the construction costs via sales tax exemption for those materials, allowing for substantial project financial savings, especially important for our smaller businesses.

Planning on a new expansion? Thinking about doing some remodeling? Moving your business to a new location? Project construction can be commercial or industrial uses. Contact our office at the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation before you start! Timing is key and we are here to help.

The first – and most important – step to obtaining a BMEC is to first find out if your business or construction site is located within the current DeKalb County Enterprise Zone boundaries. Reference maps are available online through the DCEDC website or the DeKalb County Government COMPASS GIS system. You can also contact our office directly for assistance.

If it looks like you are located within the enterprise zone, you need to get started on your application right away. Note that BMECs can only be issued to contractors (or whoever is looking to make purchases) working on approved enterprise zone projects. If you are looking to start a project to obtain a BMEC, getting started and contacting DCEDC as soon as possible is critical. If you are a contractor working on an existing project, you just need to apply for the BMEC. Our application turnaround is quick once submitted. We want to get you working and your business thriving.

Applying sooner rather than later is essential to maximize your construction cost savings as BMEC sales tax exemptions are not retroactive. This is the most common misstep with the issuance and use of BMECs.

If this sounds like an incentive you could use now or are just curious about the process for the future, contact our office and we will guide you through the application process. The DeKalb County Enterprise Zone exists to help all DeKalb County businesses of all sizes and scopes grow, thrive, and survive.

Information about the DeKalb County Enterprise Zone can be found at www.dcedc.org/enterprise-zone or contact our office enterprise zone staff: Mark Williams, Executive Director, or Andrea Van Drew, Research and Enterprise Zone Assistant, at 815-895-2711.

Andrea Van Drew is the Research and Enterprise Zone Assistant at the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation.

We Met Our Match!

Thank you to each of the Elevate and DCEDC Members who attended our Mentor Match Up event on Monday. It was a wonderful night filled with meaningful conversation. We are very excited to see how these symbiotic relationships help to make our community into a great place to live, work, and play across generations. Stay tuned for summer Elevate events coming soon!

Thank you to River Heights Golf Course for hosting our event in your beautiful clubhouse and to El Jimador for the delicious appetizers!

Williams: Encouraging trends in workforce for DeKalb County

“If we were going to have a word for the year coming from the committee, it’s encouragement, because this data certainly does look good.”

That was a quote from Paul Callighan, co-chair of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp.’s Business Retention, Expansion and Talent Pipeline Committee, after an update on local labor force data for DeKalb County.

The data was provided by Tom Austin, a labor market analyst with the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

A brief highlight of some of the data follows:

The population growth rate in DeKalb County is higher than the state’s growth rate when indexed at the state level starting in 1980.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, DeKalb County was part of about a dozen Illinois counties experiencing population growth between July 2022 and July 2023. That is certainly encouraging news given recent trends of outmigration and losses during the pandemic.

DeKalb County is being recognized as a place to live, work and play.

The labor force participation rate in DeKalb County is considerably higher than the state and national average.

What does this mean? While employers rely on new workers entering the labor force, they also rely to a larger extent on the existing labor force continuing to participate in the labor force.

The decline in labor participation was evident during the pandemic and coming out of the pandemic, where individuals chose not to participate in the workforce for various reasons. Some chose to go back to school to improve their skills and or were not able to find adequate child care options.

Austin pointed out that “over time, you do want to see labor force participation at a higher level because that’s reflective that the economy is doing well, people are comfortable coming back into the economy and participating in it, and that there are opportunities.”

DeKalb County has the lowest median age for workers in the Elgin Metro region at 34.3.

Kane County’s median age of workers is 41, Illinois is at 39.9, and the U.S. median age is 39.6.

The DeKalb County workforce is the youngest in the region. Having a younger group of workers in the county is a positive reflection of the communities within the county but also is most likely attributable to having Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College located in the county.

We know that when we can show we have a continuous flow of younger talent into the county, we will have better outcomes on business retention and expansion, as well as attraction.

It is therefore paramount that we continue with the implementation and integration of our Opportunity Unbound brand’s goals.

Initial goals for OU were to attract and retain a strong and diverse workforce; expand the quality of life in the county through specific attractions and entertainment venues; change the current perception of our citizens; create a more diverse palette of opportunities for people of varied races, religions and ethnicities; integrate our county with NIU, Kishwaukee College and the other educational institutions; and leverage business retention and attraction efforts.

Each of these goals continues to be addressed through our OU marketing channels. Our Opportunity Unbound Marketing Committee is co-chaired by Cortney Strohacker and Mike Kokott.

Our Business Retention, Expansion and Talent Pipeline Committee is co-chaired by Kelly Gillespie and Paul Callighan and meets the first Tuesday of each month.

You can find Austin’s presentation and other related resources and information at dcedc.org/resources-data.

Read Williams’ previous column featured in The Daily Chronicle: Williams: Celebrating DeKalb County’s wins, planning for succession in 2024

Borek Retirement Celebration at DCEDC 2023 Annual Dinner

On the evening of Thursday, September 28th, DCEDC held its 2023 Annual Dinner, focusing on celebration of the outstanding economic development career of former DCEDC Executive Director, Paul J. Borek. Over 200 guests were in attendance at Faranda’s Banquet Center, including community leaders, partners, and his family, to honor and recognize Borek’s leadership and achievements in DeKalb County.

Development partners and community leaders shared notable memories of working with Borek over the years during the dinner celebration. Borek also reviewed the growth and development of significant projects throughout DeKalb County during his tenure as well as recapping new projects for 2023.

Borek served as the Executive Director for 15 years (2008-2023) and now turns the helm over to new Executive Director, Mark Williams. DCEDC wishes Paul and his family the very best in his retirement adventures!

Thank you, Paul!

Please view a selection of photos from the evening here by Katherine M. Photography.

Notable Accomplishments by Borek (2008-2023)

Thank You from Gov. Pritzker

Coverage of the event by The Daily Chronicle: Retiring business director lauded by local leaders for transforming DeKalb County economy

New facility announcements in DeKalb County

On August 24, Kraft Heinz held its groundbreaking ceremony for its new facility coming to DeKalb. This new automated facility is set to be one of the largest of its kind in North America! The approximately 775,000 sq ft distribution center will bring 150+ jobs to the DeKalb County area. Welcome to DeKalb County Kraft Heinz!

Additionally, on August 25, long-time DCEDC member Waste Management held a formal launch event for the DeKalb Recycling & Disposal Facility renewable gas initiative. Thank you for your continued commitment to renewable energy in DeKalb County!