Quinn: ADM decision great news for Illinois, not just Chicago

2013-12-19T00:00:00Z Quinn: ADM decision great news for Illinois, not just ChicagoKurt Erickson Lee Springfield Bureau nwitimes.com
December 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

SPRINGFIELD | Gov. Pat Quinn is calling Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland Co.’s decision to move 50 to 75 executives to Chicago “great news for Illinois.”

The Democrat from Chicago said he talked with top ADM brass at least three times in the days leading to the company’s Wednesday announcement that it would establish its global headquarters in Chicago without tapping into taxpayer incentives.

The agribusiness giant now will call its Decatur home of 44 years — with more than 4,000 employees — its North American headquarters.

“ADM’s long-term commitment to Chicago, Decatur and our entire state demonstrates its own faith in its future here,” the governor said in a statement. "I have enjoyed working with ADM for more than a decade. I look forward to continued partnership as this dynamic company invests and grows in Illinois.”

The governor’s upbeat statement came after ADM had unsuccessfully sought state tax credits worth an estimated $30 million over two decades to move its executives to Chicago, as well as open a 100-employee technology center.

A deal worked out between ADM and state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, had called on the company to promise it would add employees to the Decatur workforce in exchange for taking the money.

While Manar’s proposal won approval in the Senate, it was never called for a vote in the House amid concern about the appearance of handing out taxpayer dollars to successful companies.

State Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, said she preferred a plan in which the company would expand in Decatur, which has the highest unemployment rate in the state.

“We would have wanted the guarantee of the new jobs,” Scherer said..

On the other hand, Illinois taxpayers are not on the hook for any incentives now, she added.

State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, called the lack of a guarantee of new ADM jobs in Decatur and in Chicago a “huge missed opportunity.”

“The incentive would have kept jobs in Decatur and created new jobs there over the next five years. Unfortunately, foot-dragging by the governor and the House means there is no guarantee we will see job growth in Decatur,” said Brady, who is running for governor.

Earlier this month, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said the practice of companies seeking tax dollars to stay in the state or relocate to Illinois is “corporate pay-to-play.”

Now, with the ADM incentives off the table, a Madigan spokesman said the House will launch into hearings designed to find a better way to deal with companies looking for tax breaks.

“We will continue to work toward creating an evaluation process that makes sense for Illinois taxpayers and Illinois business people,” the spokesman said.

State Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign, said he’s pleased the company will remain in Illinois. But, he said he remains concerned about the high jobless rate in his hometown of Decatur.

“We need to improve the entire business environment in Illinois,” Brown said. “It’s a bleak situation.”

Scherer agreed. “The problem we have with jobs is not a quick fix,” she said.

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