The Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation said Thursday it plans to continue supporting development prospects in the town of Beloit even after the town severed ties with the group last month.
In a release, the group said town of Beloit Administrator Ian Haas wrote a letter indicating the town of was dropping out of the Beloit area’s main economic development consortium. The group received the letter Dec. 7.
The split came about a month before the town of Beloit formally filed a petition in Rock County Court this week to incorporate parts of the town east of Afton Road as a village, tentatively named the village of Riverside.
Andrew Janke, economic development director for the city of Beloit, said after the town filed a petition for incorporation, the executive committee of the economic development group directed him to release a statement about the town of Beloit’s split from the economic development group.
City of Beloit officials have said they oppose the town of Beloit incorporating as a village. They have also characterized the town’s run at incorporation a money grab. Incorporation would seal the town’s borders from other municipalities annexing land, and payments the town gets from Alliant Energy’s town of Beloit power plant would double if the town became a village.
Haas told The Gazette this week that the town of Beloit wants to incorporate in large part so it can have better access to economic development tools, such as tax increment financing, that incorporated communities such as the cities of Beloit and Janesville use regularly.
Janke said his group has not communicated with the town of Beloit since Haas sent the letter severing ties last month. He said he called the town’s walking away from the economic development consortium “interesting timing,” given the fact the town later went on to file a petition for incorporation.
Haas on Thursday told The Gazette that the split was a “business” decision for town, and it applies to the current budget year.
“These were business decisions that were not politically motivated,” Haas wrote in an email to The Gazette. “It simply makes more sense for the Town to disengage and work on things internally for a while.”
In a news release sent out Thursday afternoon, Haas wrote that the town paid about $1,000 a year to be in the economic development consortium. Haas wrote that he’s has had “very few dealings” with Janke on economic development.
“I am pleased at how well this organization has been able to assist in the economic vitality of the region, but the town finds that a partnership with the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation is not mutually beneficial at this time,” Haas wrote in the town’s December letter.
Janke pointed out the Beloit economic development group worked alongside the town of Beloit and other local stakeholders to “champion” the $750 million expansion to of Alliant’s power plant in the town of Beloit, a project that’s ongoing.
Janke told The Gazette on Thursday that his group would continue using its website to help the town of Beloit market land for development or re-development.
In Janke’s release, Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation Chairman Brian Anderson is quoted as saying the group remains “hopeful” the town of Beloit will re-join the group, but he suggested the town’s recent split from the group would “foster unproductive competition” with the region.
Haas told The Gazette he wouldn’t rule out the town returning to a partnership with the economic development consortium.
And he wrote that the town cutting ties with the economic development group would not prevent private individuals in the town from partnering with the group.