What is the Will Kankakee Regional Development Authority?

WKRDA is an economic development finance tool that is available to two Illinois counties that can help to lower the cost of financing for businesses, not-for-profits, senior housing and public projects in the region.

What counties are included in WKRDA region?

The WKRDA region includes the counties of Will and Kankakee.

How was it created?

Like the other ten regional economic development authorities in Illinois, WKRDA was created by an act of the General Assembly as a Special District (70 ILCS 535/). Web Link: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=868&ChapterID=15

What can WKRDA do?

Primarily WKRDA is designed to be a double tax-exempt, low interest, financing tool for development and redevelopment in the region. As a development authority, WKRDA is authorized – with the written approval of the Governor – to issue bonds and notes. The outstanding amount of bonds shall not to exceed $250 million in taxable and tax-exempt bonds for the purpose of developing, constructing, acquiring or improving properties or facilities for businesses, and some other public and not-for-profit entities, locating or expanding within the territorial jurisdiction of the Authority.  Given the limitations that municipalities and businesses often face in obtaining financing, WKRDA provides a new way to obtain low interest financing.

What kinds of financial instruments might WKRDA have available to it?

Depending upon the project, WKRDA can issue: industrial revenue bonds for manufacturing firms, senior housing bond for developers; taxable revenue bonds; local government bonds; non-profit bonds and environmental bonds.  The financial instruments that an authority such as WKRDA chooses to use is largely limited only by its enabling statute and the policies established by its board, and does not take away any authority of a participating county or municipality to issue bonds on their own.  WKRDA simply provides another financing tool to help communities in the region.

Wouldn’t this financing only be of use in urban or more industrial areas?

No!  And that’s one of the advantages of WKRDA. Many of the existing programs at the state and federal levels do not take into account the special financing needs of more rural and less industrial areas.  WKRDA can. Rural counties often call upon similar authorities in their regions to help with project financing. They have, for example, aided in the construction of a local YMCA, provided funds for the expansion of a local hospital, as well as many other projects that are not specific to urban or industrial areas.  Most of the regional authorities established in Illinois serve more rural areas as these are the areas that have the greatest need for low cost project financing.

How is WKRDA governed?

By state statute WKRDA is governed by a 10-member board.  There are 9 public members of the board: three members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the State Senate, and three members from each of the two counties in the WKRDA region, appointed by the county board chairpersons of the respective counties. The final member of the WKRDA board is the Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, or designee, who serves as an ex officio member.

What kinds of people might a county appoint to the WKRDA board as public members?

That is up to the county, but the statute says that public members shall be persons of recognized ability and experience in one or more of the following areas: economic development, finance, banking, industrial development, state or local government, commercial agriculture, small business management, real estate development, community development, venture finance, organized labor, or civic or community organization.

Who handles the day-to-day operation of WKRDA?

The day-to-day operations are handled by the Executive Director. The Executive Director is the chief administrative and operational officer of WKRDA and directs and supervises its administrative affairs and general management.  The Executive Director presents a project for approval by the board of directors, then WKRDA engages attorneys, underwriters and other professionals and consultants as needed to issue the bonds.

How does WKRDA pay for its operations?

WKRDA has no taxing power, generally receives no appropriations from the state for operations. WKRDA operates solely based upon fees charged to issue bonds. The fees charged are much less than the benefit the borrower receives in a lower rate of interest.

So what must a county government pay to become involved?

Nothing. WKRDA is operationally self supporting.  All that a county needs to do to become involved is to make its appointment to the WKRDA board and have that person commit to attend scheduled board meetings.

Whom should I contact for more information?

Andrew Hamilton, Executive Director, Will Kankakee Regional Development Authority (WKRDA), Joliet Office: 116 North Chicago Street, Suite 101, Joliet, IL 60432, Chicago Office: 1608 W. Belmont Avenue, Suite 203, Chicago, IL 60657, Capitol Office: P. O. Box 13112, Springfield, Illinois 62791, Tel: 866-325-7525, Fax: 866-325-7569, Email: andrewjhamilton@wkrda.com