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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House approved a plan Thursday to give as much as $35 million in state and local tax breaks to help a Delaware-based company build a fertilizer plant in central Illinois.

The incentives are part of a massive 11th-hour package of economic development plans that include an expansion of the McCormick Place exhibition hall in Chicago to include a hotel and a new basketball arena for DePaul University. It also includes incentives aimed at developing a new third Chicago-area airport in Peotone.

The measure was sent to the Senate on a vote of 81-35.

The fertilizer plant is a project of a newly formed company called Cronus Chemical LLC. Officials say the firm would build a $1.2 billion urea production facility that would employ 2,000 people during the construction phase and about 150 permanent employees once completed.

"This bill, while not perfect, will push economic development in the State of Illinois," said state Rep. Adam Brown, a Champaign Republican who pushed for the project.

"This bill affects my district," said state Rep. Sue Scherer, D- Decatur. "Many people will have an opportunity for a job. Just to let you know, Decatur has almost 14 percent unemployment, and it is desperately needed."

"This is a statewide bill," said state Rep. John Bradley, D- Marion, who sponsored the measure. "There's pieces of this that certain areas like. There's pieces of this that certain areas of the state don't like. But again, I think that overall this is hopefully a balanced economic development act which will create jobs and economic opportunities throughout the state."

The state’s package is designed to woo the company from locating in Mitchell County, Iowa. The offer includes state and local tax breaks, the construction of roads and the connection of a pipeline to Champaign that will provide treated waste water to the facility.

Iowa officials have not confirmed they are working with the company, which was formed in December by a group of Turkish investors.

The legislation is Senate Bill 20.|(217) 782-4043


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