If a business wants to relocate to Sugar Grove but the deal falls through, there is no one stepping in right away to refer that company to a comparable piece of land or vacant storefront in North Aurora or anywhere else in Kane County.
"Each municipality is only interested in themselves," Sugar Grove Trustee Kevin Geary said. "There's no further referral to a neighboring community that could benefit. There isn't an incentive. There is no central repository of all spaces in all the local communities. So that opportunity is lost."
Geary shared that frustration as both an elected official and a real estate agent Wednesday to the Jobs Committee of the Kane County Board. The committee is charged with improving the unemployment rate and the tax base of the county.
Geary's gripe fueled debate on the committee that may result in the county not only becoming a clearinghouse for economic development sites in the area, but also the main marketer of incentive packages for business looking to open or relocate.
The ability to reduce or eliminate impact, permit and building fees are huge incentives for businesses looking to move, Geary said. So are sales tax refunds, property tax freezes and financial assistance to purchase land. County board member Phil Lewis said all those need a fresh look as the county seeks to thrive in the harsher realities of the new economy.
"Sometimes it's not always about relocating a company," Lewis said. "Sometimes there's much greater opportunity in providing incentives where our existing companies can grow. We can develop incentive packages at the county level that put us in a competitive and ideally superior position. Once municipalities know there are incentives available through Kane County, I believe they will sign up and be willing participants (in the clearinghouse idea). Right now, municipalities don't see the benefit of Kane County's function."
County board member Kurt Kojzarek told Geary he shouldn't forget his suggestions when he returns to Sugar Grove.
"Sugar Grove has some of the highest impact fees in the county," Kojzarek said. "So what you're talking about, it goes back to the municipalities as well."
Geary said he's been a vocal opponent of impact fees. They are important to fund government infrastructure improvements, he said, but only within big picture limits.
"We have to temper them with what's the long-term value of the business we're looking at," Geary said.