Economic incentive program on Galesburg Council agenda

Galesburg Aldermen can approve a package of economic development incentives tonight that has been in the works for most of 2019.

Council documents say the impetus of putting this policy together was the closure of the state of Illinois’ CDAP Revolving Loan Fund, that provided loan-interest business loans for startups and commercial expansions.

These new programs also prioritize wage growth.

Before businesses could qualify for gap financing for creating $15,000/year jobs, but to qualify under this new plan, the jobs created have to be 125 percent of Galesburg’s per capita wage, which is about $21,000 according to 2017 estimates.

Jobs created would have to be at least around $26,000, in theory with that number growing with local wages.

A change from CDAP includes prioritizing commercial and industrial jobs over retail/restaurants since the latter usual provide higher compensation.

This requirement would not be included for downtown businesses. The maximum loan amount would drop fro $750,000 to $250,000.

Larger employers can qualify for the maximum if they are creating at least 50 jobs and making a capital investment of $1 million or greater.

Aldermen could also approve zoning ordinance for cannabis businesses to operate in Galesburg.

This would lay the framework for cannabis businesses like infusers, cultivators and dispensaries can operate.

Most immediately it affects Nature’s Treatment of Illinois that announced last week that they will set up shop by Jan. 1 in the former Aldi grocery store on Henderson and Main Streets.

Part of the ordinance would be a 3 percent sales tax on recreational cannabis on top of the 8.75 percent already assessed.

However, the council also can approve a developer’s agreement with Nature’s Treatment to abate 1.5 percent of the cannabis tax until 2021.

Council can also approve purchasing several properties from the Knox County trustee at a cost of $823 per property.

A pair of those, 140 and 144 E. Main St. are dilapidated storefronts in between 156 East and Merle Norman Cosmetics, that caught on fire in 2014.

The others are residential properties on Liberty, Farnham, Lincoln and East First streets.