West Humboldt Park company seeks tax break extension

Chicago economic development coordinator says extension would lead to 20 new hires

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By Igor Studenkov

Contributing Reporter

A moving company that offers job opportunities to non-violent ex-offenders is looking to get an extension on Class 6(b) tax incentive for its facilities West Humboldt Park — a move, city officials say, could allow the company to hire more people.

Midway Moving and Storage Inc. has traditionally specialized in moving services throughout the Chicago area. More recently, it expanded into document storage and shredding. The company's facilities are located at 4100 W. Ferdinand St., near the West Humboldt Park/West Garfield Park border. It originally got a tax incentive in 2004 to build the facility, but it is now looking to renew the tax credit for 10 more years. While the Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development approved the application on June 20, it would need to be approved by the Chicago City Council and the Cook County Board of Commissioners in order to take effect.

According to a bulletin created by the Cook County Assessor's office, a Class 6(b) is a tax incentive designed to attract new industrial businesses and support existing industrial businesses. It's granted to applicants that want to build new industrial facilities, rehabilitate existing industrial facilities or reuse abandoned industrial buildings.

Under the terms of the incentive, the property gets assessed at 10 percent of its market value for 10 years and at 15 percent during the 12th year; instead of the normal assessment of 25 percent for industrial properties. During and after the 10th year of the incentive, property owners can apply for a 10-year extension. There is currently no limit on how many extensions the owner can apply for.

If the property receives the classification, the employees would be paid under the rules established by the Cook County Living Wage ordinance.

Before the Chicago City Council votes on whether to approve the application, it has to pass the Economic Development Committee. Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), whose ward includes the Midway Moving facilities, sponsored the application.

The July 20 meeting began with Denise Roman, the City of Chicago Economic Development Coordinator, laying out the rationale for the extension. She explained that, thanks to the tax incentive, Midway built a 60,400 square-foot facility and continued to expand, hiring 50 people. If the tax incentive is granted, she said, they would be able to hire 20 more.

Midway Moving CEO Jerry Siegel told Austin Weekly News that he intended to use the money saved to expand the document storage side of his business, as well as to create a training center for his employees.

"We take pride in training our people to make sure they have the skills to do the job," he said, noting that moving is more complicated than many people realize.

When asked about the hiring practices, Siegel said that Midway hires employees from all across Chicago.

"They come from all over Chicago — the South side, the West Side," he said. "We primarily [employ] city residents."

The new employees will be hired to handle the document storage and shredding side.  He also explained that Midway works with community organizations to recruit non-violent ex-offenders who would otherwise have trouble finding jobs. He emphasized that, while the company is willing to hire ex-convicts, it is very careful about picking applicants.

"We are very selective about who we hire, because our customers expect great service," he said.

After Roman's presentation concluded, Ervin spoke in favor of the Class 6(b) extension.

"Midway has been a good corporate citizen in my ward, hiring ex-offenders," he said. "They are a positive influence in the ward and in the Northwest Corridor."

Ervin also praised them for conducting document shredding events all across Chicago.

Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) also spoke in favor of Midway's application, saying she had a good working relationship with the company and praising their shredding events.

The committee unanimously voted to recommend the approval of the application. It now goes to the City Council — though it is unclear whether it will be considered during this month's meeting.  

Contact:
Email: igorst3@hotmail.com

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