Colbert Packaging moves division to Wisconsin from Illinois

Colbert Packaging moves division to Wisconsin from Illinois

Division president cites Wisconsin’s favorable business environment as chief reason for move.

The Colbert Packaging Corporation announced plans to move its flexographic packaging operation from its current Lake Forest location to a new facility in Kenosha, Wis. Sixty-five positions will be moved from the Lake Forest facility and supporting warehouse in Libertyville to Kenosha. Colbert Packaging is most known for producing and supplying the boxes for the famous Frango Mints brand.

The new Kenosha facility will be twice as large as the Lake Forest-Libertyville operation and will be Colbert Packaging’s largest facility to date, covering 173,000 square feet, with 18 loading docks and will span 16 acres of land, according to a press release from the Colbert Packaging Corporation. In addition to the 65 jobs taken from its Illinois operations, Colbert plans to add 40-45 new jobs at the Kenosha plant in the next two years.

The company was straightforward about why it made the move. “Wisconsin rolled out the welcome mat,” Colbert President Jim Hamilton told Crain’s. “This state has no welcome mat. It’s like, ‘You’re here. Good.'”

Hamilton cited reduced taxes and real estate costs, as well as the company’s workforce’s proximity to the new factory, as reasons for the move. Unfortunately, local and state government in Wisconsin offered Colbert over $1.6 million in incentives to establish operations in the state, as well.

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian and Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser joined Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on the new plant’s grounds to welcome Colbert to the Dairy State.

When compared with its more business-friendly neighbors, Illinois’ policies make it harder for manufacturers to succeed. The Illinois Department of Employment Security’s September report showed a loss of 800 manufacturing jobs, despite a gain of over 7,400 payroll jobs.

Wisconsin, like over half the states in the country, has Right to Work, which allows workers to choose whether to join or pay money to a union. Illinois’ lack of a statewide Right-to-Work law puts the Prairie State at a competitive disadvantage in attracting and retaining manufacturing businesses.

Illinois also has some of the nation’s highest property taxes and a costly workers’ compensation system, which contribute to the costs manufacturers face when investing in or expanding facilities.

If the Land of Lincoln wishes to compete with neighbors like Wisconsin, it must enact pro-growth economic policies such as Right to Work, a property-tax freeze and workers’ compensation reform, or still more manufacturers will follow Colbert Packaging across state lines.

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