Amazon may employ 8,000 people in Illinois by end of 2018
The Romeoville fulfillment center is one of several Illinois facilities Amazon has opened or plans to open in the coming years. For some of those locations, Amazon has signed deals with the state of Illinois worth tens of millions in potential tax credits.
Amazon unveiled its planned fulfillment center in Romeoville, Illinois, on June 8, with Gov. Bruce Rauner and Romeoville Mayor John Noak in attendance, according to the Daily Herald. The online retailer plans to hire up to 8,000 workers total at its various Illinois facilities by next year. Amazon has opened or has plans to open locations in Joliet, Wood Dale, Waukegan, Edwardsville, Aurora and Monee, according to the Daily Herald.
Some of the internet retail goliath’s investment in Illinois – specifically, in Joliet, Aurora and Monee – has been coaxed by deals worth tens of millions in potential tax credits.
Illinois’ valuable location and status as a transportation hub also influenced Amazon’s decision to select the Land of Lincoln as the location for these fulfillment centers. Within the state, the company is reportedly choosing where to build based on where taxes are lower and where there is an eager workforce, according to the Daily Herald.
But since 2015, the state of Illinois and Amazon have signed multiple deals potentially worth millions in tax credits through the Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE, tax credit program. Though EDGE credits were not part of the Romeoville facility’s development, the state signed EDGE deals with Amazon in order to develop facilities in other Illinois locales. In conjunction with the development of its Joliet facilities and the creation of 3,500 jobs, one Amazon EDGE deal was reported to be worth some $71 million, but the state’s estimates put the value at $42 million over 10 years. For Amazon’s Monee-based facility, in connection with which the company planned to employ 2,500 people, Amazon signed an EDGE deal the state estimates to be worth more than $27.8 million in potential tax credits over 10 years.
For Amazon’s planned facility in Aurora, the e-commerce giant inked an EDGE deal with the state potentially worth $12.89 million over a 10-year period, according to the state’s estimates, and was set to receive a property tax abatement from the city of Aurora worth $400,000.
Though existing agreements are still underway, Illinois’ EDGE program is currently expired, despite attempts by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to bring it back.
Taxpayers shouldn’t have to bribe multibillion-dollar companies to come to Illinois. And Illinois’ attributes such as its central location might have attracted the internet retailer to the state even without EDGE credits. If Illinois wants to grow and attract good jobs across various sectors, lawmakers need to deal with the underlying economic problems that make it hard to set up shop in the Prairie State, instead of cutting deals with select companies. Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the nation, the highest workers’ compensation costs in the region, and is tied with Massachusetts for the country’s highest LLC startup fees, which are especially hard on many small businesses.
Lawmakers need to pass real reform across the board, not simply give selective corporate handouts.