UI lab plan ought to be local effort
State Sen. Chapin Rose has sounded a justifiable alarm.
Sen. Chapin Rose, a Mahomet Republican who described himself as "apoplectic," has had time to calm down over the planned transfer of University of Illinois assets to open a manufacturing laboratory facility in Chicago.
But it would be foolish to ignore his concerns over the practices of Chicago-area politicians, most notably Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to enhance the prosperity of their home areas at the expense of downstate, in this case the UI's Urbana-Champaign campus.
This appropriation of downstate resources is nothing new. As political influence has gravitated to Chicago, so have substantial pieces of state government been moved from Springfield to the Windy City. With the rest of the state in a political hammerlock, Cook County pols mostly ignore downstate, except to cherry-pick the economic resources they want to expropriate.
Rose is not alone in his complaint. Champaign businessman Peter Fox notes that local efforts to create high-paying jobs are hindered by these Chicago-centric practices, and it's a virtual certainty that others who are equally concerned are biting their tongues to avoid rocking the boat.
Promoters of this plan are correct that a successful venture in Chicago can have beneficial efforts for the whole state. So can efforts in Champaign-Urbana. But there can be no doubt that Emanuel is far more concerned about Chicago than he is about any other region of Illinois. Local business and elected officials and university leaders should be mindful of this continuing threat to the Urbana-Champaign campus' economic vitality.