Illinois lawmakers are considering a plan intended to create more construction jobs.
The so-called Blue Collar Jobs Act would award tax credits to companies that put up new buildings or improve existing structures. The idea is to tap into the local workforce.
State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) says factories left behind by companies like Caterpillar could be upgraded and reused.
“The Illinois Blue Collar Jobs Act benefits the company who makes that investment and there’s benefits for the construction workers who makes some improvements, and ultimately the worker who has a permanent job in a new and upgraded facility,” Wheeler said. “That’s a win, win, win.”
The tax incentives are similar to the current EDGE program – which is meant to encourage long-term job creation and investment in buildings and equipment.
Tyler Diers, with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, says more needs to be done.
“A fresh approach is needed for economic development in the state, and it’s not very often that business and labor can come together on an issue, but when we do, we can achieve great things," Diers said.
The legislation was filed late in the session — more than two months after the deadline for the introduction of new bills. Wheeler says even though the plan came out of the Republican caucus, he would like to see bipartisan support.