Ruggieri uses economic symposium to bring people together


REALTOR® Alex Ruggieri of Ramshaw Real Estate in Champaign helped organize and facilitate a panel discussion during an economic development symposium Thursday at the University of Illinois – iHotel Conference Center in Champaign.

The sixth annual event is designed to bring together community members, government leaders, corporations and academics to develop collaborative strategies using real estate, anchor institutions and talented workers to accelerate economic development in the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign region.

The first panel discussion, “’Place-making’ Economic Development through RE Innovation and Inclusion,” included:

  • Jim Schultz, Intersect Illinois;
  • Laura Frerichs, Director, Research Park and Economic Development, University of Illinois;
  • Jeannette Tamayo, Regional Director, U.S. Economic Development Administration;
  • Alexei V. Tchistyi, PhD, University of Illinois, Director – Office of Real Estate Research;
  • Calvin L. Holmes, President, Chicago Community Loan Fund; and
  • Thomas Osha, Managing Director, Wexford Science & Technology.

The second panel discussion, “Optimizing Real Estate Assets for Enterprises & Human Capital in Communities,” included:

  • Tom Anderson, Global Product Owner, Real Estate Lifecycle Management and Cloud 4RE, SAP; and
  • David J. Wilk, CRE, MAI, National Co-Chair, SVN Corporate Real Estate Services & Adjunct Faculty, Real Estate and Infrastructure, John Hopkins Carey Business School.

Special guests were:

  • U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (video);
  • Champaign Mayor Deborah Frank-Feinen;
  • Jeffrey Brown, Dean, University of Illinois College of Business;
  • Kreg Allison, Director, Division of Real Estate, State of Illinois; and
  • Roger Cannaday, Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois College of Business.

A New Tool for Economic Development

One of the many unfortunate results of a tough economic recession is the sight of empty real estate, where there once was a business or shop.  Members of the Illinois General Assembly should be commended for crafting a new law that could prove to be helpful in addressing the problem of vacant storefronts and buildings.

Public Act 96-0755, which went into effect in August, allows any taxing district, upon a majority vote of its governing body, to abate any portion of property taxes if a new business first occupies a facility located on the property during the taxable year and the facility had been vacant for a period of at least 24 continuous months prior to being occupied by the business.  The legislation states that the abatement period cannot exceed two years and the aggregate amount of abated taxes for all taxing districts cannot exceed $4 million.

The legislation was deliberately limited but it could help spur some redevelopment and re-occupancy of properties.  This was the intention of state legislators and hopefully local officials will follow suit.  If more than one taxing district, say a school district and a municipality, agree to do an abatement, it could be a good incentive and just what is needed to help a business expand or start up in a new site.

REALTORS® who serve on local economic development councils or on planning commissions should keep this legislation in mind and “talk it up.”  Some municipalities are already starting to make use of it. Others may not even be aware of it.

The entire legislation can be viewed at

Find out about commercial resources available through IAR and NAR at and read a report about recent state legislative activity.