Indiana appropriated Chicago's longtime The City that Works slogan for its A State that Works campaign, and now is going after Windy City businesses as well.
State and local economic development officials never really stopped playing the Pied Piper tune of lower taxes, less regulation and a cheaper cost of doing business across the Indiana state line. But The Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state's commerce department, is bringing back a tweaked version of a sales pitch that blanketed billboards and business journal websites three years ago.
Remember the "Illinoyed by higher taxes?" ads aimed at luring business to the Hoosier State? A sequel is coming soon: "Stillinnoyed."
The latest marketing campaign to try to persuade Illinois businesses to jump across the Indiana line contrasts the business climates of the neighboring states. A major focus will be that Illinois' corporate income tax rate is 9.5 percent, while a newly signed law will lower Indiana's corporate tax to 4.9 percent in 2021.
Stillinnoyed? No wonder ads will start flashing hundreds of times a day on digital billboards by Chicago airports and at West Loop locations that include a a Metra commuter rail station and the Monroe Street exit off the Kennedy Expressway.
A promise of lower tax bills has helped persuade a string of businesses, including AM Manufacturing Co., Tec Air and Carl Buddig, to move operations to Northwest Indiana from south Cook County in recent years.
Still, Illinois has far outpaced Indiana in economic development, pulling in more than three times as many significant business investments last year, according to Site Selection Magazine data.
Last year, Illinois ranked third nationally by attracting 383 projects that involved more than $1 million in investment, at least 50 jobs, or 20,000 square feet, according to the trade publication. Indiana had 103 such projects, which was at least 60 fewer than all of its neighboring states and second-to-last per capita in the Midwest.
Indiana economic development officials, however, hope to capitalize on frustration with tax hikes and budget deficits in Illinois, shortly after Gov. Pat Quinn proposed making a temporary income tax increase permanent.
"In an increasingly competitive marketplace, companies are seeking to maximize their competitive advantage," said Victor Smith, Indiana secretary of commerce. "Indiana offers companies the ultimate upper hand, with lower taxes and more affordable business costs just minutes away from downtown Chicago. When compare Indiana to high-tax Illinois, the difference is clear."
Indiana launched the original Illinois campaign in 2011, after Illinois raised its corporate income tax by 30 percent and its individual income tax rate by 67 percent trying to plug the state's then-$13 billion budget deficit. Around 40 Illinois companies, many from Chicago's southeast suburbs, have moved factories, warehouses and other facilities across the state border.