Study Finds Only 52% of TIF-Related Job Creation Confirmed in Chicago

On one year anniversary of TIF Task Force Recommendations, new analysis shows need for implementation

Illinois PIRG

CHICAGO – A new report released today found little tracking or enforcement of taxpayer subsidized private development projects that had promised job creation.  The analysis by the watchdog group Illinois PIRG comes one year after Mayor Emanuel’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Reform Panel released recommendations for how to fix the wasteful economic development program and underscores the need to implement reform to protect taxpayers

Illinois PIRG’s report “Jobs and TIF: An Analysis of Job Creation and Tax Increment Financing” analyzes the records 21 TIF-funded projects from the last decade with the biggest number of promised jobs – each project examined was required to create at least 200 jobs. The report checked to see whether the city is making sure developers are living up to their promises. 

The findings show that among projects that promised to create the most jobs, there are unacceptably low levels of tracking and enforcement:

• Between 2000 and 2010, the City of Chicago spent more than $380 million dollars to create 32,396 jobs through Tax Increment Financing projects, but only 16,948 of those jobs were accounted for; 

• 15 out of 21 projects with jobs covenants did not report meeting their jobs goals on an annual basis;

• 6 of those projects, on which the City spent over $129 million dollars, have no record of periodic monitoring or job creation at all.  

“Given that the purpose of TIF is to use taxpayer dollars to create jobs and stimulate economic growth, it’s unacceptable that the City isn’t holding developers accountable for achieving these goals,” said Hailey Witt, Field Director for Illinois PIRG. “Taxpayers deserve to know if they’re getting what they paid for.”

Illinois PIRG is calling on the Mayor to implement his Reform Panel’s recommendations that would create a standard set of metrics to track the progress and measure success of TIF projects and review performance regularly.   

“Mayor Emanuel has showed us a year ago that he is committed to TIF reform by creating this Panel, and their proposed reforms would move the city in the right direction. But it’s not enough to have these ideas on paper. The City Council should step up and pass an ordinance that the Task Force recommendations must be put in place,” said Witt.