Illinois Makes Changes to Spur Economic Development

Aug 22, 2013

Credit Brian Mackey / IPR

Earlier this year, legislation was introduced to abolish the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Administration officials negotiated a more modest set of changes, and now they've beensigned into law. IPR's Brian Mackey has more on the changes in store for economic development in Illinois.

The legislation creates a council of executives from different industries and different parts of the state. They're supposed to guide Illinois in marketing itself to businesses.  It's a long way from abolishing the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, known as DCEO. Both bills were sponsored by state Sen. Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill. He says he took up the issue because parts of Illinois — like Decatur, in his district — have had unemployment higher than the state average for a generation.

"Which tells me that the state agency in charge of economic development is disconnected from a pretty good part of this state."

"Since 2009 — since this governor has been in office — we've put $172 million into Manar's district."

 Adam Pollet is director of DCEO.

"We take this very seriously. We're very committed to reducing unemployment across the state."

Pollet says the legislation, which was a compromise, will help keep the agency accountable for actually creating jobs with its spending.