Turning swords into plowshares is no easy matter, as Illinois and Will County officials learned when they tried to attract investment to Joliet Arsenal. For decades, the 3,000 acres making up the Joliet Arsenal had been used by the federal government as an ammunition plant. But in 1993, it had been declared excess Army property. The Will County area found itself facing the same opportunities and challenges faced by hundreds of communities nationwide that have endured base closures.
State and local officials sought to replace and enhance the economic benefits once generated by the federal installation. The plan was to stimulate diversified projects and land uses, creating new job opportunities. The Joliet Arsenal Development Authority was created, and an Enterprise Zone within the property was defined. For companies willing to invest in the area covered by the Enterprise Zone, various incentives were made available.
In September 2006, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced that the extension of an Enterprise Zone had secured an investment commitment from ProLogis, a global provider of distribution facilities and services. ProLogis plans to build as much as 10 million square feet of industrial space on a 770-acre area within the park. This project will accommodate regional and super-regional distribution centers, for a total expected investment of up to $300 million. This is estimated to create as many as 3,000 jobs.
ProLogis will qualify for an array of benefits. There is a 6.25 percent state sales tax exemption permitted on building materials. Also, there is an incentive called the Enterprise Zone Jobs Tax Credit. It allows a $500 credit on Illinois income taxes for each job created in the zone. Another tax incentive is the Enterprise Zone Investment Tax Credit. It applies to qualified investments in machinery, equipment, and buildings. Finally, the Illinois Department of Transportation is working on an initial $2 million agreement with the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority and ProLogis for road improvements at the site.