Don't ignore Cat's warning

Businesses that don't have to be in Illinois don't want to be here.

In one of the least-surprising news events of this or any other year, Peoria-based Caterpillar, Inc., disclosed this week that a new plant that could have been located in Illinois will be built closer to one of its facilities in North Carolina.

That's 1,000-plus jobs that Caterpillar could have moved from Japan to Illinois for the purpose of manufacturing "track-type tractors and mini hydraulic excavators."

It wasn't just the manufacturing jobs that would have been created once the facility was complete. Construction would have created a mini-boom in economic activity. Once the plant was up and running, there would have been all kinds of spillover effects that would have produced more jobs yet.

The lives of thousands of people would have been affected, directly or indirectly.

But another state will get those jobs, with Caterpillar explaining its decision was driven by "logistics, port access and proximity to our division headquarters in Cary, North Carolina."

Illinois lost on the merits. But suppose Illinois' amenities were sufficient? Or suppose Illinois was an even better fit in areas Caterpillar considered desirable? Illinois still would have lost. Why?

"Please understand that even if your community had the right logistics for this project, Caterpillar's previously documented concerns about the business climate and overall fiscal health of the state of Illinois would have made it unpractical for us to select your community for this project," Caterpillar wrote Peoria County economic officials.

This is just a part of the high price the people of Illinois continue to pay for the perpetual political malpractice that has driven this state to its knees.

Illinois' financial shape is woeful and getting worse. Our business climate drives away economic opportunities that would enhance civic life. Meanwhile, our politicians fiddle as the state burns.

The Caterpillar decision is just the latest example of how wrong things have gone. How much more of this must Illinois endure before our elected officials have the stomach to right the ship of state?

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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Sid Saltfork wrote on February 09, 2012 at 12:02 pm

CAT was clear in it's statement that they needed a port facility.  How can you twist that to the lack of support the Illinois business climate?  They wanted tax breaks like those given to Sears, CME, and others.  If CAT had received the tax breaks, they still would have needed a facility in a port area.  Those tax breaks are what is hurting the Illinois economy.  Illinois still has a lower tax than it's surrounding neighbors.  Are the taxpayers of Illinois supposed to pay off corporations who are still making good profits when they threaten to move to another state?  Those tax breaks would have went a long way in paying off the state's debt.  Why were they given in the first place?  Well, look at the "campaign donations" to the legislators, and governor.  Why did Ameren get a special deal?  Look at the "campaign donations" to your local legislators.  The state's money problem is based on two things: Corruption, and Greed.  It seems to be okay to put the burden on the everyday working guy while rewarding the fat cats that pay off the politicians.  

read the DI wrote on February 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Surely the Sangamon counts as having "port access." We are being railroaded again! Thank you, Gazette editors, for showing such wisdom and speaking truth to power!