Business Climate

Sterling, Illinois makes it easy for you to do business. We understand one of the most critical cornerstones of business success is its people; with a labor force of nearly 30,000 within fifty miles and an overall population of nearly 70 million within 500 miles, we connect your business in Sterling to the major markets of Chicago, Quad Cities, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee, Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and others. But that’s not all, just look at the numbers. Our workers are more productive, and a more productive workforce means a lower cost of doing business. From entrepreneurs and small start ups to major employers, businesses know Sterling Illinois is connected for them.


Strong transportation infrastructure, solid workforce and training programsHere’s a snapshot of what else we have to offer your business in the Sterling, Illinois area.

Operating Overview


Our central location is backed by a strong transportation network that lets you:

  • Minimize the impact of congestion–a problem that costs the US economy more than $87 billion each year*
  • Compensate for volatile fuel prices
  • Speed products to market

*Texas Transportation Institute, 2009 Urban Mobility Report


  • I-88 (a key east/west route)
  • I-39
  • I-80
  • I-74


  • Main line for Union Pacific Railroad
  • Direct connections to West coast, Chicago, Clinton, Iowa port, and Global III Intermodal hub

Air Service

  • Whiteside County airport (4 miles from Sterling)
  • Quad City International airport (50 miles from Sterling)
  • Chicago Rockford International airport (66 miles from Sterling)
  • O’Hare International airport (111 miles from Sterling)

Major motor carriers

  • Rock River Cartage
  • Con-Way Central Express
  • Dohrn Transfer Company
  • Northern Illinois Transit


Labor Shed

The Greater Sterling area has a stable population of over 158,000 and competitive wage and benefit rates that are up to 15% lower than those in suburban Chicago.

Source: Proprietary research conducted for the Greater Sterling Development Corporation


Sterling has a deregulated power system, a low-cost and reliable natural gas supply, water/sewer with excess capacity to support future growth, and multiple provider options for basic and high-speed data services. And because the same utilities provide many key services, rates are very similar to the Chicago market.


Deregulated power system

  • Provider: Commonwealth Edison

Natural Gas

  • Two major transmission lines
  • Provider: Nicor Gas


  • Sourced from five wells; combined capacity of 5.2 million gallons/day
  • Provider: Illinois American Water Company


  • Municipally owned
  • Current capacity of 4.4 million gallons/day; can be expanded to 9 million gallons/day


  • Basic and high-speed available
  • Providers:  AT&T, Insight Cable, T6 Broadband



  • Corporate Income Tax
    4.8% of net income (statewide)
  • Personal Income
    3% of net income (statewide)
  • Personal Property Tax
    2.5% of net income
  • Inventory
    None in the state of Illinois
  • Sales

Source: Illinois Department of Revenue

Workers’ Compensation

Cost for a typical manufacturing job in Illinois is $3.65 per $100 of payroll.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


The Greater Sterling Development Corporation and the Whiteside County Enterprise Zone offer a variety of programs designed for qualifying new, expanding and relocating businesses.

Tax credits

  • 0.5% investment tax credits on machinery, equipment and existing buildings
  • $500 tax credit for each job created for which a certified dislocated worker is hired

Tax exemption

  • 5% tax exemption on machinery used or consumed in operation of pollution control facilities to qualifying companies
  • 5% state utility tax exemption

Tax abatements

  • Five-year property tax abatement (from 35% to 94%) for qualifying new construction/renovation
  • Ten-year property tax abatement for qualifying new construction/renovation projects that create 500 full-time jobs and invest at least $25,000