Our View: State should be better to business
Updated: May 27, 2012 8:14AM
Politicians and Big Labor were nervous last week with not only Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker stalking Illinois, but Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. Both governors have led their states toward right-to-work status.
Walker received a warm welcome from the state’s business community in Springfield on Tuesday, April 17, the day Illinois residents paid 67 percent more in state taxes thanks to the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Walker was the keynote speaker Friday night at the 50th annual Lake County Republican Federation’s spring fund-raiser at the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort.
We don’t think Big Labor has anything to fear of Illinois moving to a right-to-work state, although union members should be more worried about Gov. Walker cherry-picking state businesses. Indeed, Walker’s lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, pledged April 17 at a Chicago rally to keep “poaching” businesses from Illinois.
Lake Countians are quite familiar with the tactics of Wisconsin officials when it comes to luring Illinois firms across the Cheddar Curtain. The roll call of firms who have bolted for the border grow annually, thanks to the Byzantine antics of our state’s public officials. And it’s not only Wisconsin inviting Illlinois firms. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, the pride of Peoria, eschewed its central Illinois roots and recently broke ground for a new plant in Georgia.
While Walker has taken his lumps not only in Wisconsin, where he is fighting a recall attempt, but also from Illinois critics, one business magazine now rates the Badger State’s business climate in 2011 at 17th in the nation, where it had been 41st. Compare that to Illinois which, in the eyes of the nation’s top CEOs, is ranked 48th.
There is some good news on the economic development front, however. VW Credit, Inc., has decided to expand its Libertyville location and concrete manufacturer Lafarge North America announced April 17 it will relocate its headquarters to a site near O’Hare International Airport from Virginia, a move that is expected to create around 100 jobs.
What brings French-based Lafarge’s headquarters to Illinois, it’s CEO said, was,“The location and all of the infrastructure this area offers is very important: The airport, the trains, the rivers, the lakes, the roads.” Lafarge already has a presence in Lake County, at Waukegan Harbor, where cement boats unload their cargo from spring ’til fall.
So if you’re keeping score, mark one for our Midwest location, at least among European companies. That and Gov. Pat Quinn offering about $6.3 million in tax incentives to the company, which Lafarge gets if it meets certain job creation and economic targets. To us, that gives jobseekers a real right to work.