Another Illinois employer bolts for Indiana

Another Illinois employer bolts for Indiana

The Land of Lincoln continues to send well-paying jobs to the friendlier business climate next door.

Illinoisans know the state is losing residents. This summer has shown that businesses want out, too.

In July, six manufacturing companies announced plans to cease some or all operations in Illinois. Now Spain-based TRADEBE Environmental Services has announced it will move its U.S. headquarters to Merrillville, Indiana, from Oakbrook, Illinois, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. The move will create up to 30 high-wage jobs in the Hoosier State.

The new headquarters will complement other TRADEBE investments in Lake County, Indiana, including a $16-million expansion of its treatment, storage and disposal facilities in East Chicago. TRADEBE expects to hire up to 25 new workers in East Chicago by 2017.

TRADEBE’s choice of the Hoosier State over Illinois follows a disturbing trend.

In June, Franklin Well Services announced plans to relocate its headquarters from Lawrenceville, Illinois, to Vincennes, Indiana, creating up to 92 high-wage jobs, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation points out.

Last week, Illinois-based Hoist Liftruck was revealed as the previously unnamed manufacturer planning to create more than 510 manufacturing jobs with an average yearly salary of $55,000 in East Chicago, Indiana. Hoist cited an unfriendly business climate in Illinois as its reason for relocating. It will move more than 300 jobs across the state border from its facilities in Bedford Park, Illinois, and will hire more than 200 additional workers at its new East Chicago facility.

“If I didn’t have the workers’-compensation issue and the [property-tax] issue, I probably never would have even considered moving,” said Hoist CEO Marty Flaska. “Why would I?”

Indiana’s economic-development agencies are looking more like crisis hotlines for Illinois business-owners like Flaska. “We’re not over in Illinois knocking on doors,” said Karen Lauerman, president and CEO of the Lake County Indiana Economic Alliance. “We take calls.”

The Hoist announcement followed a torrent of manufacturers opting out of doing business in Illinois, including:

  • A July 29 announcement by Mondelez International that it will lay off 600 manufacturing workers from its South Side facilities
  • A July 24 announcement by Mitsubishi Motors that it will close down production facilities in Normal, Illinois, jeopardizing 918 automotive manufacturing jobs
  • A July 16 announcement by General Mills that it will shut down its manufacturing plant in West Chicago, Illinois, laying off 500 workers
  • A July 15 announcement by energy processor Bunge North America that it will shut down its plant in Bradley, Illinois, laying off 210 workers
  • A July 14 announcement by machine-maker DE-STA-CO that it will move 100 manufacturing jobs from Wheeling, Illinois, to Nashville, Tennessee

“Today’s news shows that the Hoosier advantage is clear,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith in a press release. “When faced with a world of options, companies like TRADEBE continue to choose Indiana because of our state’s business-friendly climate and fiscal strength. With low taxes, reduced regulations and a strong Hoosier workforce, Indiana is a state that works for business.”

When speaking to Illinois employers, the policies that cause businesses to bolt couldn’t be much clearer: a broken workers’ compensation system, a hostile legal climate and sky-high, volatile property taxes.

Fixes to all three have been on the table in Springfield for months, proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner as part of his Turnaround Agenda. But House Speaker Mike Madigan and other legislative leaders refuse to take action.

Until the state’s political class takes its business-exodus problem seriously, Illinois will continue to squander middle-class opportunities for the families who desperately need them. Announcements like TRADEBE’s are becoming a distressing norm.

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