CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn late last week signed controversial legislation that creates a pilot sales tax and revenue bond program to aid a proposed $378 million retail and entertainment complex in the struggling downstate city of Marion.

Under the measure, a portion of sales tax revenue generated by the 400-acre complex will go to repay so-called STAR bonds issued to help finance infrastructure and other development costs. The project is expected to divert more than $400 million in sales taxes over a 35-year period.

The developer, Bruce Holland, and supporters pressed for the bonding help, arguing that the project will create thousands of construction and full time jobs and result in $756 million of economic activity in the region.

Opponents argue the bonding help gives an unfair competitive advantage to the complex over existing facilities. Holland initially sought to build the facility in Glen Carbon, but moved the location due to opposition.

"Thank you, Gov. Quinn, for giving us an opportunity we have never had in Southern Illinois," Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, said at the bill signing last Thursday. "This has the potential to be the largest economic development project in the history of our region."

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