Saturday, March 2

Marion and Williamson County, Illinois, leaders work together to enhance local entertainment | News

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, IL — A potential inter-local agreement with ties to a major economic development project aims to bring more business and revenue to a southern Illinois community.

Williamson County and Marion, Illinois, leaders are working on an agreement to fund sports tourism development.

The city said the agreement will benefit their long-term S.T.A.R. bond district, the first in the state, which includes the redevelopment of the once defunct Illinois Star Centre Mall. That project was announced early September. S.T.A.R. — short for sales tax and revenue — bond districts are an economic development tool allowing local governments to use sales tax revenue to help finance tourist attractions within the development districts they create.

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At Friday’s meeting, city leaders laid out the possible in’s and out’s of the possible inter-local agreement with the county. Mayor Mike Absher said it’s important for the city and county to do that together as they work toward development of the sports tourism project.

“You cannot expect to have commerce where you don’t have large aggregations of people. And for anybody that’s ever traveled on sports teams all over the country with your kids, you know that that’s a big business in certain areas of the country, and we’re trying to tap into that here. So, the, the sports field’s not a S.T.A.R. bond project. It’s its own independent project,” said Absher.

The meeting had a positive outcome as Absher said the city and county’s partnership will only enhance what their community has to offer.

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“What is new is that there is a spirit of cooperation, I think, and mutual benefit. I think this county is very business friendly and wants all of our merchants to grow,” he said.

Williamson County Board Chairman Tim Atkisson said the county doesn’t see any downside to working together on the project. 

“We need people coming to our county to live and to work and to take these jobs. We’re gonna’ have to a lot of jobs here, or maybe, you know, I’m not sure exactly how many in S.T.A.R. bonds, but maybe a couple thousands,” said Atkisson.

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