The Effingham City Council has approved the Northwest Business District. The newly established business district is along Keller Drive, and includes the area of the Avenue of Mid America and Outer Belt West. It contains 31 parcels and is 157 acres in size.
A 1% sale tax and hotel/motel tax will be put in place for retail activities within the district. Funds raised from this tax are to be used only for development within the district. The sales tax will go into effect in January, while the hotel/motel tax is enacted with the approval of the business district. The first project to be developed within the newly created business district will be a Chipotle Restaurant. This was also confirmed Tuesday as the Council approved an economic incentive agreement with Wortman Properties for the project.
Prior to the vote on the business district, Tuesday’s meeting began with a discussion by the Council about Governor Bruce Rauner’s Turn Around Agenda. City hall was filled with union members and union supporters during this item. Part of Governor Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda is the creation of “Right to Work” zones. Multiple union workers from the area spoke in opposition of this plan. Those against the plan stated that unions guarantee good pay and good benefits for its members, while also ensuring that members are well trained. It was said further that Right to Work will create a situation where untrained workers are working for less, and in turn not doing quality work. This item was just up for discussion, but Commissioners Merv Gillenwater, Don Althoff, and Kevin Willis all expressed that they would not support the Governor’s agenda with their vote. Mayor Jeff Bloemker said that he felt that support should be shown for the governor, noting that approximately 80% of the city voted for Governor Rauner.
In other action, the Council approved the City’s membership in the Effingham Regional Growth Alliance. The City will pay $25,000 in membership dues. The Alliance is a local group that aims to increase the quality of life in the area and increase job creation.