Prestige Metals to move from Illinois to Wisconsin

Prestige Metals to move from Illinois to Wisconsin

The small sheet metal fabricator will move from its current facility in Antioch, Ill., to an 8-acre location in Bristol, Wis.

Prestige Metals, a sheet metal fabricator in Antioch, Ill., announced plans to relocate its offices and production facility to Bristol, Wis., the Milwaukee Business Journal reported. Bristol is located in Kenosha County, a popular destination for manufacturers for its proximity to the Chicago area, local tax incentives packages and growth-friendly state policies.

Prestige Metals currently employs 25 people at its 20,000-square foot Antioch facility and the company has purchased 8 acres of property for its new location, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal. The company has not stated publicly what will the happen to its workers.

Prestige Metals is just the latest Illinois-based company to move all or part of its manufacturing to Wisconsin. Earlier in March, Haribo, an international candy producer with its American offices located in Rosemont, Ill., announced plans to break ground on a $242 million production facility in Kenosha County.

Other Illinois companies which have recently moved all or part of their operations to Wisconsin include packaging manufacturers Vonco Products LLC and Colbert Packaging.

Prestige Metals has not announced the official reason for its move. However, Wisconsin may be more attractive for manufacturers than the Prairie State for several reasons. First, Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the country, which makes it an expensive location both for real estate-intensive companies like manufacturers, and for their workers, who must buy or rent homes in which to live. Illinois also has the highest workers compensation costs in the region, which can be especially burdensome for smaller manufacturers like Prestige Metals, which only employs 25 people. Finally, Illinois has a disadvantage because it lacks a statewide law protecting worker freedom, unlike Wisconsin, which has Right to Work. A CNBC survey of global chief financial officers found that two-thirds consider a state’s Right-to-Work status “important” or “very important” when deciding where to expand their businesses.

Residents, like businesses, are heading north

It’s not just companies leaving Illinois for Wisconsin.

Illinoisans have been leaving the Land of Lincoln to go to Wisconsin for years. From 2006 to 2015, Illinois lost nearly 86,000 people on net to Wisconsin. And in 2015 alone, Illinois lost more than 11,000 residents to the Badger State. It’s not hard to imagine why Illinoisans are moving north.

Wisconsin’s property taxes are at their lowest levels in more than 70 years, whereas Illinois has some of the highest in the country. On top of that, Illinois has the costliest tax burden in the nation, making it harder for middle- and working-class families to get by. And despite having lower taxes, Wisconsin is reporting a $21 million budget surplus. Illinois has no budget in place, but Springfield is spending $8 billion more than the state collects in tax revenues, and Illinois has nearly $12.5 billion in backlogged bills and $130 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Plainly put, Illinoisans pay more for the same services and have less economic opportunity than their northern neighbors. This toxic combination of high taxes and an uncompetitive jobs environment is helping Wisconsin woo Illinois’ people and companies. Lawmakers in Springfield would be wise to take note.

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