QUINN: Picking off neighboring business is shortsighted strategy

August 6, 2011

Patrick QuinnQuestion: Gov. Mitch Daniels in recent months has boasted about luring jobs to Indiana from Illinois. Is offering incentives to attract jobs from neighboring states good public policy?

Our focus in Illinois is not on kicking other states in the shins; rather, we are doing what is necessary to bring jobs to our state and ensure our long-term economic growth.

We are home to more than 1,500 subsidiaries of foreign companies. Illinois hosts 10 companies in the Fortune 100, 19 in the top 250, and 31 in the top 500. Indiana, by contrast, has five in the top 500.

Since 2009, we’ve seen a number of Indiana companies move to Illinois. Businesses are choosing Illinois for reasons that go far beyond our strategic incentive packages, which are just one tool in our arsenal.

But the reality is that Midwestern states will need to work together more, not less, to market the region to global visitors and business. An approach that focuses on picking off a neighboring state’s business is shortsighted and is a losing strategy for our region.

By working as a region, we will be more successful in securing financing for projects like high-speed rail and attracting research and development. Together, we can ensure a thriving export market for the region’s goods and services.

In order to make sure Illinois remains competitive on a global scale, we are focused on supporting innovation and emerging technologies. I recently signed a law that will help technology-based companies locate to and expand in Illinois. Other tools like the Illinois Innovation Council are helping us support entrepreneurs and invest in cutting-edge jobs.

We are also keeping our brick-and-mortar foundation strong. Illinois’ first capital construction program in a decade is enabling us to make vital improvements to the infrastructure system businesses depend on. By upgrading our roads and bridges and upgrading to high-speed rail, businesses have more direct routes to engage consumers. And by giving businesses the tools they need to relocate and expand, we have created 97,200 jobs since January 2010.

The Small Business Job Creation Tax Credit, which just expired, helped more than 5,500 people find jobs in the small-business sector over the past year. The Angel Investment Tax Credit has spawned more than $2 million in private investment in 20 Illinois companies.

Just as important, our portfolio is performance-based. If the promises aren’t kept, the incentives or tax breaks don’t happen. If in any one year the company does not meet their required benchmarks, they forfeit those credits for that year. Our corporate accountability program is ranked No. 1 in the nation for transparency by Good Jobs First for a reason.

With more productions filming in Illinois than ever before and more production companies moving here, audiences around the world can watch us on screens big and small. The filming of “Transformers 3” in downtown Chicago generated $24 million alone. Our film tax credit has helped generate more than $500 million in spending in Illinois and created the equivalent of more than 10,000 full-time jobs.

Keeping Illinois globally competitive also means implementing reforms when needed. This spring, I enacted major education reforms that will ensure we have the best teachers who are committed to seeing students succeed. I also enacted historic Worker’s Compensation reform that will save employers more than $500 million annually while also protecting workers.

If we work together, the Midwestern states will have a broader platform from which to remind global CEOs that moving here will give them the ability to fly anywhere in the world, transport their goods anywhere in the world, provide their employees with a higher quality of life, and tap into the brainpower of the world’s best and the brightest.•


Quinn is governor of Illinois. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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