Illinois food manufacturer moves to Indiana

Illinois food manufacturer moves to Indiana

Enjoy Life Foods relocates manufacturing and distribution facility from Chicago suburbs to Indiana.

Enjoy Life Foods, a manufacturer specializing in allergen-free snacks, finalized previously announced plans to move operations from Schiller Park, Illinois, to Jefferson, Indiana. The plant closure was announced in January 2016, less than a year after Enjoy Life Foods was acquired by Mondelez International in February 2015.

The move cost Illinois 125 to 150 manufacturing jobs.

Enjoy Life Foods stated it has already hired 100 employees at its new plant in Indiana and plans to hire 200 more by the end of 2017, according to a report by Fox 32. The new 200,000-square-foot facility in Jefferson will enable Enjoy Life Foods to double its output. With the new plant and hires, Mondelez’s investment in the Jefferson area will total more than $39 million.

“Overall, we look for the best place to locate for our manufacturing,” stated Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Joel Warady in an article by the Illinois Policy Institute in January. “Finding a manufacturing-friendly state was part of the process.”

Warady is not alone. In a survey of CEOs conducted by Chief Executive Magazine in May, Illinois ranked as the worst state in the Midwest and third-worst in the U.S. for business friendliness. The best state in the Midwest for business, according to CEOs? Indiana. The Hoosier State ranked first in the Midwest and fifth in the country.

Indiana’s business-friendly climate is making it all the more attractive for investment and economic growth. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. estimates that since 2005 more than 50 Illinois-based companies have moved to Indiana, according to Fox 32. While Enjoy Life Foods will receive $800,000 in state tax credits and local incentives in connection with moving operations to Jefferson, Indiana has fundamental economic policy advantages over Illinois. In the CEO survey, Illinois fared poorly compared with Indiana in all three categories on which CEOs were polled: tax and regulatory regime, workforce quality and living environment.

Illinois’ property taxes are among the nation’s highest, its sky-high workers’ compensation costs leave it uncompetitive with neighboring states, and its lack of Right-to-Work policies disadvantages the state compared with regional peers. While Rust Belt states such as Indiana and Michigan experience a manufacturing revival, Illinois is being left in the dust thanks to policies that do not work.

Illinois policymakers should take this latest manufacturing loss as a wakeup call. If Illinois wants to keep and attract manufacturers, the state must pursue pro-growth policies.

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