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Economic development incentive policy in talks for Joliet

The city of Joliet is weighing the prospect of adopting an economic development incentive policy.

At a recent meeting of the Joliet Economic Development Committee, officials reviewed a draft prepared by city staff.

The policy, if adopted, is meant to guide city staff and elected officials in making decisions when in talks with developers.

It is not intended to dictate how the city decides to act, should an applicant submit a request for economic development incentives.

The policy states that it seeks to establish “principles and procedures for regulation and coordination of economic development funds.”

“If a developer is interested in doing a project, this is the basis of what we can look at when we’re deciding if this is a project we need to provide incentives for,” said Derek Conley, economic development specialist for city of Joliet. “If so, why? If we are going to provide incentives, how much? If we are that point, then what else should we be considering to ensure that the city and its residents are protected and they’re getting the best product possible?”

City staff used the meeting to gather feedback to help inform and shape the policy.

Councilman Larry Hug said he wants it to be made clearer that Joliet is interested in working with new developers and that building relationships is an important first step.

City attorney Mike Hanson said he is not in favor of the policy.

“To me, a policy is really strict and formal,” he said. “Guidelines are less so.”

The city has shared the draft with community partners, such as the Joliet City Center Partnership, the Joliet Chamber of Commerce and the Will County Center for Economic Development.

Conley said the policy has been looked at largely with positivity by a number of entities.

“They understand why the city is creating this document, and they like a lot of what’s in here,” he said.

Conley said some concerns have been raised for the policy, as well, and city staff is looking into them.

Hanson said he would like the city to make sure that smaller developers do not get turned away too quickly.

The city wants the policy to leave room for flexibility and not deter developments from coming on line.

“It allows us to still problem solve, if need be,” Conley said.

The Joliet Economic Development Committee at its November meeting is anticipated to review the policy again.

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