All Incentive Programs

FINISH LINE GRANT

The Finish Line Grant is a grant program geared towards assisting property owners with rehabilitation and property improvement projects. With the Finish Line Grant, we are not only supporting local commercial and mixed-use property owners, but our goal is to increase the economic viability of downtown Aurora as a whole.

To learn more about the Finish Line Grant and eligibility, click each link below. If you believe you are eligible and your property could greatly benefit from a Finish Line Grant, simply click the “Apply Now” button to be taken directly to the application.

To assist property owners in the completion of rehabilitation projects in downtown Aurora

Property that will be rehabilitated must be commercial or mixed-use property within the downtown TIF District, TIF 1 and a portion of TIF 3.

The Finish Line Grant Boundary map below shows the boundary in which properties would be eligible for the Finish Line Grant. 

The grant amount will range from 20 percent to 50 percent of the total rehabilitation costs, but not to exceed a total amount of $75,000. The grant amount will be determined on a case-by-case basis. An example of grant amounts per project cost are shown in the chart below:

 

Once Invest Aurora has received the application, we will review it in its entirety and make a decision. If the project is approved, you will receive a Certificate of Eligibility.



The project must then be completed within 180 days of receiving a Certificate of Eligibility from Invest Aurora. This is determined by securing a Certificate of Occupancy (or equivalent) from the City of Aurora within that 180 days time frame. If no Certificate of Occupancy (or equivalent) is acquired, the Certificate of Eligibility will become invalid and no previously agreed upon funds will be dispersed.

This grant money will be dispersed in the form of a reimbursement once the project has been completed. The property owner must present Invest Aurora with a proof of waiver for all liens on property, proof of payment for completed work, and a copy of the Certificate of Occupancy from the City of Aurora before the reimbursement can be sent out.

The commercial uses outlined below are NOT permitted as a use for the first three years following the building’s rehabilitation:

  • Rooming and boarding / Single room occupancy
  • Used clothing stores
  • Pawn shops
  • Flea markets
  • Pay day loan stores / Currency exchanges
  • Laundromats
  • Barber shops / Hair dressers
  • Tattoo parlors / Massage parlors
  • Gun clubs / Shooting ranges
  • Vapor or electronic cigarette stores
  • Drug paraphernalia stores
  • Packaged liquor stores
  • Religious uses / Nonprofits

However, should one of these uses already exist in the buildings prior to rehabilitation, that use will be allowed to continue.

JOHN C. DUNHAM REVOLVING LOAN FUND

Invest Aurora’s John C. Dunham Revolving Loan Fund is a new program aimed at assisting property owners in the downtown. Loans will be issued from a pool of over $1.2 million to finance eligible property rehabilitation for projects that are not commercially bankable. The loan pool is revolving in nature, with repayment amounts leveraging additional future loans. Loan amounts are reviewed and approved by an independent Loan Review Committee, made up of bank partners who have contributed to the loan fund. The new program is made possible thanks to a generous contribution from the Dunham Fund.

Any additional information can be found in the John C. Dunham Revolving Loan Policy Manual. If you wish to apply, simply click the “Apply Now” button to be taken directly to the application.

CITY OF AURORA INCENTIVES

Community Development Assistance Program (CDAP)

The CDAP is a revolving loan (RLF) fund available to companies locating or expanding in the Aurora Township, typically used to acquire land, buildings, and equipment.  Projects eligible for the loans will be job creation or retention projects that benefit at least 51% low-to-moderate income individuals.  Project funds loaned will be secondary to either conventional bank or other non-CDAP financing, and will not exceed 1/3 of the total project cost.

River Edge Redevelopment Zone
(RERZ)

The RERZ has three main functions: to create new jobs, stimulate the local economy, and to revitalize significant buildings, sites and neighborhoods. It was designed by the State of Illinois to help redevelop properties facing environmental challenges adjacent to rivers in Illinois, like the Fox Valley River. This program provides tax credits for developments located in these redevelopment zones. You can find out more on the Illinois.gov website.

Industrial Revenue Bonds

The City of Aurora has the ability to issue tax-exempt industrial revenue bonds (IRBs) on behalf of manufacturing companies to finance the acquisition of fixed assets including land, buildings, equipment, and also new construction and renovation. IRBs provide financing rates that are lower than conventional financing.

Stolp Island Historic District

A nationally designated district that allows property owners to qualify for the historic preservation tax credit program providing that the building is income producing and adheres to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The federal tax credit can be worth up to 20% of the cost of rehabilitation.

New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC)

The New Markets Tax Credit program is designed to attract investment for economic development projects in low income areas. Investors contribute to a community development entity which then makes an investment in a qualified active low income community business. The investor receives a 5% tax credit in each of first three years and a 6% credit in each of the remaining four years for a total of a 39% tax credit over seven years.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

TIF districts are created to assist in the redevelopment of distressed areas. As improvements are made to an area and the value of that area increases, the incremental property tax can be used for public improvements or given to developers for additional development. Aurora currently has seven active TIF districts:

  • TIF #1 is commonly known as the Downtown TIF. It was created in 1986 and received a twelve year extension in 2009. TIF #1 will expire in 2022.
  • TIF #2 expired in 2012.
  • TIF#3 is commonly known as the River City TIF. It was created in 2000 and will expire in 2023.
  • TIF #4 is commonly known as the Bell-Gale, an industrial park. It was created in 2005 and will expire in 2028.
  • TIF #5 is commonly known as the West River TIF which encompasses Lake Street retail corridor. It was created in 2007 and will expire in 2030.
  • TIF #6 is commonly known as the East River TIF which encompasses the Route 25 corridor. It was also created in 2007 and will expire in 2030.
  • TIF #7 is commonly known as the West Farnsworth TIF. It was created in 2011 and will expire in 2034.
  • TIF #8 is commonly known as the East Farnsworth TIF. It was created in 2011 and will expire in 2034.

STATE OF ILLINOIS PROGRAMS

Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE)

This program is provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The Illinois Economic Development for a Growing Economy Program (EDGE) offers special tax incentives for companies to locate or expand their operations in Illinois. EDGE allows companies to reduce their costs of doing business compared to related costs in other states.
For more information, expand the links to the right.

The Illinois Economic Development for a Growing Economy Program (EDGE) offers special tax incentives for companies to locate or expand their operations in Illinois. EDGE allows companies to reduce their costs of doing business compared to related costs in other states. Tax credits are available for qualifying businesses making capital investments and creating new jobs in Illinois:
• Tax credits are calculated on Illinois income taxes paid by employees’ in newly-created and/or retained jobs
• Used to offset corporate income taxes over 10 years
• Non-refundable, carried forward up to five years, and cannot be larger than a company’s annual state income tax liability.
Companies are required to meet the following conditions:
• Demonstrate an active competition for a competing location in another state, illustrate other available options to locate outside the state, or verify credits are essential to creating jobs in Illinois
• Project must be an expansion of an existing operation or a new location (relocation within Illinois only considered with well documented business reason)
• Adds to Illinois’ export potential; manufacturing or services exported out of state are acceptable, retail trade and personal services are not considered eligible
• Companies over 100 employees must invest $5 million in capital improvements and create 25 new full time jobs in Illinois; companies under 100 must invest $1 million and create 5 new full time jobs
• Maintain jobs created and/or retained, as well as capital investments, during period credits are claimed.

Process Requests for tax credits are based on reviews of applications submitted by interested firms. Tax credit amounts are calculated on a case-by-case basis and can be as high as the tax receipt amounts collected from Illinois income taxes paid by newly hired and/or retained employees related to the project.

For more information or to request an application, contact your Regional Outreach office. Contact information is provided below:
Michelle Michals

Northeast Senior Account Manager

(312) 636-4555

Michelle.Michals@illinois.gov

Employer Training and Investment Program
(ETIP)

This program is offered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) assists Illinois companies in training their workforce to increase the productivity and competitiveness for Illinois businesses in the global economy. ETIP enhances job opportunities for employees in Illinois and keeps workers’ skills on pace with the latest technologies and business practices. For more information, expand the links to the right.

The Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) assists Illinois companies in training their workforce to increase the productivity and competitiveness for Illinois businesses in the global economy. ETIP enhances job opportunities for employees in Illinois and keeps workers’ skills on pace with the latest technologies and business practices.
Single company training is available for small and large Illinois-based businesses with employee training needs based on the following criteria:
• Operating or locating in Illinois with planned permanent expansion, location or retention
• Expanding a business enterprise in Illinois
• Investing in new capital equipment or technologies with specialized training needs
• Expanding into new markets / exports from Illinois
• Introducing more efficient technologies / continuous improvement systems into operations
• Providing training to employees in order to avoid layoffs
Multi-company training is available for the following intermediary organizations that can provide employee training needs for multiple Illinois-based companies:
• OEMs sponsoring training for Illinois suppliers
• Business and industry associations
• Educational institutions
• Labor organizations
• Strategic business partnerships Illinois-based companies and intermediary organizations may submit grant applications that provide training activities for newly-hired Illinois employees or retaining and upgrading the skills of existing workers in Illinois.
Applications are accepted on an annual basis and are reviewed through a competitive process. Awards are subject to the availability of funds and are provided as matching grants for up to 50% of approved costs on eligible training activities for full-time Illinois employees (part-time, temporary, contractual or seasonal workers are not eligible). NOTE: Retail, healthcare, financial services, hospitality, restaurants and other service-related companies are not eligible for the ETIP program. For more information or to request an application, contact your Regional Outreach office. Contact information is provided below:

Michelle Michals

Northeast Senior Account Manager
(312) 636-4555
Michelle.Michals@illinois.gov

FEDERAL PROGRAMS

Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUB Zones)

HUBZones (Historically Underutilized Business Zones) were established in 1997 by the federal government as part of the Small Business Reauthorization Act. Specific contracts from the federal government can be designated for HUBZone qualifying companies. Government-wide goals aim for 3% of prime and subcontracting opportunities to go to HUBZone companies. Find more information and verify if you are in a HUB Zone below.

While the program gives an advantage, it is still the responsibility of the company to put the information forward and submit the bid.
Companies in a HUBZone can gain competitive and sole source contracting. Another benefit to being in a HUBZone is a 10% price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions, as well as subcontracting opportunities.

To qualify for HUBZone benefits, a business must have certification from the Small Business Administration as a small business. Then, the business must determine if it meets the eligibility requirements for a HUBZone.

The following is eligibility criteria for a HUB Zone:

  • Registered with the Small Business Administration as a small business
  • Principal office of business must be in a HUBZone
  • Business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a community development corporation, an agricultural cooperative, of an Indian tribe
  • At least 35% of the business’ employees must reside in a HUBZone (not necessarily the same HUBZone as the business location

Community Development Block Grant

(CDBG)

Invest Aurora’s Business Expansion Forgivable Loan Program is a program aimed at assisting low to moderate income business owners in Aurora’s Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area. The Forgivable Loan Program is funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grants, administered by the City of Aurora. The Forgivable Loan Program is intended to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses attain access to capital. For more information, expand the links to the right.

The Forgivable Loan Program is intended to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses attain
access to capital. Eligible uses of loan proceeds include:

  • Start-up expenses
  • purchase supplies / inventory / equipment
  • Cover working capital for staff salaries or leasing space
  • Marketing

All eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Operate a microenterprise business (with 5 or fewer employees, one or more of whom owns the enterprise), or are in the process of developing a microenterprise business
  • Operate within the physical boundary of the program service area (see City of Aurora Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area map here)
  • Meet HUD low to moderate income qualification standards

If applicants meet defined program needs, the loan amount issued will be forgiven at a rate of thirty three percent (33%) per year, spread over a period of three (3) years. More information on eligibility can be found in the ‘Application Materials’ below.

The following are prohibited uses of the Forgivable Loan funds:
  • Any activities that may disturb lead-based paint
  • Activities for adult businesses
  • Activities for businesses selling drug paraphernalia, including vape shops
  • Space renovation
  • Training
  • Personal Expenses
  • Expenses incurred prior to loan approval

If there is a use you are unsure of its eligibility, please contact the Invest Aurora staff.

APPLICATION MATERIALS
Click the links below to take you to the CDBG application, intake form, and intake policy.

FEDERAL OPPORTUNITY ZONES

Opportunity Zones offer monetary incentives in communities like Aurora to investors so they can come in and build, all while cultivating economic growth and adding to the job market. This incentive was made possible by the Investing in Opportunities Act , which amended the Internal Revenue Code to authorize and assign opportunity zones to sections of a community that are of lower income. Opportunity Zones offer three tax incentives to investors:
  1. Temporary deferral: Investors can defer capital gains taxes until 2026 by keeping unrealized gains (profit from investments that exist on paper, but have yet to be claimed)  in an Opportunity Fund
  2. Reduction: If the Opportunity Fund investment is held for 5 years, the original amount of capital gains that an investor has to pay deferred taxes for is reduced by 10%. If this fund is held for a total of 7 years, it is reduced by another 5%, for a total reduction of 15%.
  3. Exemption: Any capital gains on investments made through an Opportunity Fund accrue tax-free if they are held for at least 10 years by the investor.
Click here for Opportunity Zones Resources published by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The IRS has also published a list of frequently asked questions, where you can obtain info about eligibility, locations, and more. Click here.

Below is a map illustrating the eligible Opportunity Zones in Aurora. You can find an interactive Opportunity Zones map here, where you can do your own location search and zoom in on eligible zones.
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