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Site Selection Magazine: Illinois ranked in top five

Monday, Mar 4, 2013

* Despite all the dire predictions of end times, business still appears to be aggressively expanding in Illinois, according to Site Selection Magazine. The state ranked fifth in the nation for new and expanded corporate facilities, up from from seventh last year.

The state rankings article is here. From a Gov. Pat Quinn press release…

In 2012, Illinois had 322 corporate facilities locate or expand in the state. […]

“More and more companies are choosing Illinois to invest and grow their business,” Governor Quinn said. “I’m committed to advancing Illinois’ competitiveness, and using every tool at my disposal to expand businesses headquartered in our state and encourage others to locate and do business here.”

Illinois joins Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia on the list of the top ten states with the most locations and expansions.

With 311 projects, the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metro area ranked second on the list of cities in the tier one, top ten metropolitan areas list.

Illinois companies that have relocated or seen significant expansions this year include Walgreen, Nippon Sharyo, Chrysler, Woodward and LaFarge among others. Chicago maintained its #2 ranking among the metropolitan areas category for the second year in a row.

To be included in the rankings, new facilities and expansions had to meet at least one of three criteria: (1) involve a capital investment of at least $1 million, (2) create at least 50 new jobs or (3) add at least 20,000 sq. ft. (1,858 sq. m.) of new floor area.

“Illinois has the attributes that are most important to business,” said Adam Pollet, acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. “We have a strong and diverse economy, premier logistics network, skilled workforce and an entrepreneurial spirit driven by innovation.”

The Governor’s Cup analyses, issued by Site Selection magazine, are regarded by corporate real estate analysts as “the industry scoreboard.” Site Selection is the senior publication in the corporate real estate and economic development field and the official publication of the Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC, at The magazine’s circulation base consists of 44,000 executives involved in corporate site selection decisions, most at the CEO/President/COO level.

Keep in mind that, unlike other state rankings which use mainly subjective surveys, this one is based on actual data, so it’s quite important.

Also, notice that almost all of these new projects were in the Chicago metro region. Downstate just isn’t attracting businesses, and that’s a real problem.

* Related…

* ‘One Heck of An Advantage’ - How an Illinois county meets expanding businesses’ most critical requirements.

* What Makes a Business Climate Good?: Seventy-five percent said they work primarily with a state agency contact when conducting a site selection project.

* The hottest urban center in the U.S. — Chicago’s mega-Loop: The city is so hot that this expanded downtown is adding residents faster than any other urban core in America, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

* Griffin, Zell, Reyeses are top Chicagoans on Forbes billionaire list

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Huh? - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 8:30 am:

    This isn’t a surprise. The Chicago metropolitan area has access to good superb transportation system.

  2. - Joe M - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 8:32 am:

    The Tax Foundation ranks states business climate by looking at a composite of each states corporate, individual, sales, property, and unemployment insurance taxes.

    For 2013, Illinois comes out with the 29th best business climate. Not the best but not the worst.
    And 29th place is about right in the middle of our neighboring states:
    Indiana 11th — Missouri 16th — Kentucky 24th — Iowa 42nd, and Wisconsin 43rd.

    Illinois also has the 5th highest state gross domestic product and the 5th highest population of all 50 states.

  3. - anon - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 8:37 am:

    Downstate needs to stop looking to Chicago as another state, or the corrupt machine, and figure out how to feed off of it as an economic engine. I hear so much about how chicago is trying to “change our way of life,” but if downstate wants to attract jobs, it will need to progress into the present.

  4. - reformer - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 8:40 am:

    Site Selection provides clear evidence contradicting the GOP premise that Illinois is an economic hellhole. What do people do when the encounter evidence that contradicts their strongly held beliefs? They reject it, either by finding something to nitpick about the study or by ignoring it. What they don’t do is reconsider their premise in light of the new evidence.

  5. - OpenlineBlog - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 9:00 am:

    If we are looking at the “data” then Texas is over TWO HUNDRED PERCENT better than Illinois.

    Furthermore, again just looking at the “data” then Ohio over 3 years, even with their auto industry challenges, had 1,365 new or expanded facilities compared to Illinois with 743 (not quite 200% better).

    So, looking at the “data” it appears that Illinois is FAR away from doing well.

    To put it in perspective AND give those who want to “feel good” about Illinois, we do note that the Chicago Blackhawks are in 1st place in their division while Columbus is in 5th place.

  6. - Joe M - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 9:03 am:

    I think another plus for Illinois is its excellent community colleges. Companies often work directly with a community college to set up training and education for their employees or soon-to-be employees. Illinois also has some excellent 4-year state and private universities that help create a great workforce for companies

  7. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 9:07 am:

    ===not quite 200% better==

    Actually, not quite 100 percent better. Learn math. Not that difficult.

    Also, thanks for focusing solely on the negative despite the data because we really never get enough of that in Illinois.

  8. - reformer - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 9:25 am:

    Illinois bashing has become habitual among our friends on the shrinking side of the aisle. Their logic goes like this:

    A. Democrats control state government.
    B. Democrats are incompetent.
    C. Therefore nothing is working well in the Land of Lincoln, and it’s all the Democrats’ fault.

  9. - Shemp - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 9:28 am:

    Downstate will continue to lag as long as DCEO operates the way it has since Rod reconfigured it. DCCA was of some use, but DCEO was politicized to a whole new degree under Rod and it has never recovered from what I see on the ground.

  10. - lincolnlover - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 9:35 am:

    When will Chicagoans figure out that downstate is different than the metro area? We don’t want to live in a big city environment and are willing to put up with things that y’all would think is ridiculous. With that said, Chicago has capitalized on what it does well - location and an educated workforce. Perhaps downstate, especially southern Illinois, should concentrate on what it does best - outdoor paradise, year round, aka: tourism. Chicagoans could begin to support their fellow Illinoisans by going fishing, golfing,rock climbing,antiqueing, and crosscountry skiing in southern Illinois instead of Wisconsin. High-speed rail will make the tedious drive much more enjoyable. Like it or not, we are in this together.

  11. - titan - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 9:41 am:

    “To be included in the rankings, new facilities and expansions had to meet at least one of three criteria: (1) involve a capital investment of at least $1 million, (2) create at least 50 new jobs or (3) add at least 20,000 sq. ft. (1,858 sq. m.) of new floor area.”

    This seems to measure activity by large companies (which weather the vagaries of over-regulation better than small ones, or are able to more successfully play the rent-seeking political games). It doesn’t tell us much about small business creation/expansion, which drives more of the new employement job creation.

  12. - boat captain - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 9:43 am:

    Glad to hear some good news for Illinois. We in the south need to realize that Chicago is an economic machine that we have to feed on and not see as a negative. We have to take advantage of that and use it to our advantage and not be critical, and get past the notion that Chicago gets everything. It will in the end help us if we let it. The greater amount of population lives in the Chicago area, I may not like some of their ideas or beliefs, but that is a reality.

  13. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 9:45 am:

    Shemp, I’m not sure what you mean, but if you check the DCEO numbers there is more per capita spending downstate than there is in Cook County.

    Downstate is going to lag if they can’t get over the mindset that prisons and other state facilities are the answer to their economic trouble.

    Southern Illinois should be gearing up to take advantage of fracking now that it appears a deal has been hammered out. Those companies are going to need parts, supplies, skilled workers, graduates with relevant education. Maybe that big university in Carbondale could crank out some ideas.

  14. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 9:49 am:

    The Chicago Metro is an economic giant and opportunities abound. CAT is huge in Peoria, Deere is still big in the Quads, State Farm is the Big Kahuna in Bloomington.

    The question becomes in rural Illinois, as in most of rural America — how you going to keep them down on the farm? Specifically, what are the growth opportunities in rural Illinois?

    Federal farm policy heavily favors King Corn and King Beans. You just don’t need that many folks to raise corn and beans as you used to. You need capital, lots of it, for chemicals, equipment and fuel.

    I came across an amazing stat the other day: In 1900, the population of Pike County was 31,600. Today, it’s 16,430.

    I think Illinois does a lousy job marketing to the metro area the recreation opportunities around the state. There’s no reason Southern Illinois should not be a vacation or weekend getaway destination for the Chicago metro.

    Wisconsin and Michigan spend huge on marketing in the metro. They do it because it pays off.

    Of course, Illinois would have to get to work getting their recreation areas in shape. But they should be doing that anyway.

    Also, legal marijuana is coming, like it or not. That should be a huge growth industry for Illinois farmers and we should get ready for it.

    Finally, the network of state and private universities need to be business incubators for their surrounding areas. It might help if the state caught up on the money it owes them.

  15. - Bill White - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 9:58 am:

    Governmental policy is not what endowed Texas with exploitable shale oil and natural gas.

  16. - Endangered Moderate Species - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 9:58 am:

    “Downstate is going to lag if they can’t get over the mindset that prisons and other state facilities are the answer to their economic trouble.”


    Please don’t paint us all with the same brush.

    The majority of political, business and economic development leaders in this State realize that prisons and state facilities are not the total answer to economic development.

    Economic development in the 21st Century has a complexity of opportunities and challenges.

    Dumbing us down does not help to understand or overcome the challenges.

  17. - Say it ain't so! - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 10:07 am:

    So, the 66% income tax increase did not do the State in, as many had projected.

  18. - Fred's Mustache - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    === Chicagoans could begin to support their fellow Illinoisans by going fishing, golfing,rock climbing,antiqueing, and crosscountry skiing in southern Illinois instead of Wisconsin. ===

    Actually a large group of my family and friends make it down to the Peoria area once a year for a golf outing. We golf at Weaver Ridge. Its a blast, and actually extremely affordable (unless you factor in the gambling losses at the Par-a-dice casino).

    Also, I was down in Alton for a wedding last year, and I have to say I found it to be a fun little town with quite a bit to do.

    I usually try to make it down to Bloomington once every year or so to visit my undergraduate alma mater for a football game or basketbll game.

    I guess the point is, yeah, there is fun to be had downstate. I think better marketing can help spread the word.

  19. - Palos Park Bob - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    Please note that this study was for “corporate facilities”, which I assume is for largely managerial and administrative “white collar” jobs where the corrupt workman’s comp and unfair labor practices tilted towards the unions in Illinois is less keenly felt.

    The environment for “middle class” (union) jobs like manufacturing and construction services, where our need is greatest to reduce unemployment, is still toxic in Illinois.

    Caterpillar and Deere aren’t building new factories here anymore with that toxic environment and culture.

    The previous poster was right about small business being the economic engine that drives employment, and THERE we’re pretty much a basket case.

    It’s simple cause and effect, and Madigan and Quinn’s rule was the CAUSE and unemployment is the effect.

  20. - Susiejones - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 10:16 am:

    we need to ramp up the state tourism and marketing efforts to promote things like our 7 national scenic byways in Illinois. The IL River Road National Scenic Byway has a wonderful website that allows one to plan a weekend or longer trip along the IL River and enjoy local foods, natural beauty, and many other nature based activities. Geocaching, hiking, fishing, swimming, hunting…we have a lot to offer. check it out:

  21. - Judgment Day - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 10:19 am:

    It’s not bad news, it’s not great news, but if your Pat Quinn, you’ve got to spin it to make yourself look the best. Few considerations:

    1) Out of the 322, only 51 were actually new Manufacturing facilities. (rank 6th)
    2) Another 66 facilities were expansions of existing manufacturing facilities. (rank 10th)
    3) The remainder, 205 fell into the ‘Other’ category (Consisting of “*Other Facilities includes offices, headquarters, distribution centers, research and development facilities, and mixed-use facilities”). (Rank = 3rd).

    We look to be getting offices (Chicago and suburbs primarily), and warehouse/distribution centers (our Interstate road network). And some call centers.

    “This seems to measure activity by large companies (which weather the vagaries of over-regulation better than small ones, or are able to more successfully play the rent-seeking political games). It doesn’t tell us much about small business creation/expansion, which drives more of the new employment job creation.”

    That’s one of the real important questions. This looks to be a research report more oriented to ‘building’ (like intensive building permit analysis) rather than actual small business formation.

    Most small business (particularly in the tech world) starts and grows in rental space rather than initially building bricks and mortar facilities, because it’s more important to get the business up and growing than it is to build structures.

    And that’s a much harder answer to get, because all of our ‘tools’ aren’t designed to measure that type of development. If you don’t see it, you don’t tend to measure it.

    Btw (it’s very off topic), but happened to be talking to two folks over the weekend who are working with the “Raspberry Pi” ( project, involving 3-D printing. This is the type of interesting little startup that I hope decides to stay here in IL. We’ll see…..

  22. - lincolnlover - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 10:20 am:

    Thanks, Fred! Weaver Ridge is great - have you tried The Den in Bloomington? You are correct - more and/or better marketing would make a big difference!

  23. - Fred's Mustache - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 10:25 am:

    Lincolnlover -

    I have played the Den in Bloomington. The last couple of years we have used it for our “tune up” for our weekend outing at Weaver. The Den is a tough course and a very nice course in its own right!

  24. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 10:30 am:

    - Dumbing us down -

    Hey, I’m one of you, and so is my entire family. Most friends, too.

    I’m aware there are lots of folks who have ideas beyond state facilities, but look at the howling that’s taken place over closures. My right wing grandmother in Jacksonville thinks all her money goes to welfare queens in Chicago, but that closing JDC is cruel and unusual punishment. The rhetoric from local leaders is much the same.

  25. - Bill White - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 10:45 am:

    This column is interesting as well:

  26. - MrJM - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 10:58 am:

    Give ‘m a break, Rich — 200% increases as doubling and 360 degree turns as reversals are two of my favorite expressions of numerical illiteracy.

    – MrJM

  27. - Endangered Moderate Species - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 11:03 am:

    STL- No offense taken, but I do get frustrated with the “Chicago vs. Downstate” discussion.

    We attend the same Universities. Many Downstate natives currently live in the Greater Chicago Area and vice versa.

    Downstaters visit Chicagoland and vice versa.

    Every metro area in downstate Illinois is faced with the same urban challenges as the municipalities in Chicagoland.

    Unfortunately, there are some politicians and media types who want to paint every issue with a Downstate or Chicago brush, because there are a number of people who buy into the divisiveness.

  28. - walkinfool - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 11:45 am:

    Just another proof that the “taxes drive business moves” claim is way overblown. They are a minor factor in the real world, especially for bigger companies.

  29. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    ==“Illinois has the attributes that are most important to business,” said Adam Pollet, acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. “We have a strong and diverse economy, premier logistics network, skilled workforce and an entrepreneurial spirit driven by innovation.”==

    Notice that Mr. Pollet doesn’t include right-to-work, corporate tax giveaways or eliminating state income taxes as keys to economic growth.

  30. - Gurnge - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 2:11 pm:

    It’s good to throw some actual numbers into a debate, but I have to question if the right metrics are being used here when claiming Illinois’ business climate is great (some commentors alluded to that problem above–Titan’s early comment being an example.)

    What set off the alarms for me is the State that is right above Illinois on the rankings–Michigan. But a different metric its battling with is the “voting with your feet” metric. Michigan is the only State in the Union to actually lose population between the 2000 and 2010 census (if Wikipedia is correct). Not just grow slower than the median, like Illinois, but actually lose population.

    So I have to ask–is this such a big win for Illinois and proof that everything is really wonderful, if it can get beat out by Michigan? (note–this is not to say that things aren’t better here than most people think. I’m just saying I wouldn’t hang my hat on this article as proof that everything is hunky dorey).

  31. - Ahoy! - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 4:54 pm:

    As Rich noted, the Chicago area did well, it’s a transportation hub and has a lot of advantages with its size and access to customers. It’s great news for the region and our State. It also might help shut some of the downstaters up who want to secede from Illinois (or kick Chicago out).

    The problem with downstate is that our competition is more with Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Kentucky, all states that have a lower cost of doing business (workers comp & UI). These issues affect downstate more than the Chicago area when it comes to attracting “primary jobs” or jobs that import wealth. Again, Chicago is a whole different animal with a large population base and being a top tier city.

    Additionally, several commenters’ have also noted that DCEO’s structure has not been kind to downstate. It would be nice to get a little more love from the Gov’s office.

  32. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 5:13 pm:

    === if it can get beat out by Michigan? ===

    1) Michigan ain’t just Detroit;

    2) Michigan manufacturing has indeed been booming.

  33. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 5:27 pm:

    For what it’s worth, Illinois also ranked highly in this survey in the late 80s. (1987-89)
    AA is frankly not knowledgable about what’s going on at DCEO these days, so I can’t make a comparison about what worked back then to what is working or not working now.

  34. - Gurnge - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 10:06 am:

    Just realized what a wall of text I wrote (sorry). Short version–

    1. I don’t think the magazine was lying.
    2. Michigan and Illinois probably are getting big companies to come in, and manufacturing is improving.
    3. The Michigan economy, while getting somewhat better, still clearly really sucks, as evidenced by the fact that they lost people over the last decade and the still high unemployment rates.
    4. Consequently getting ranked in the top five maybe doesn’t really reflect how well a State is doing or will be doing over the long haul.

    But having said all that–I’ll take it. I love this State (love Michigan as well for that matter), and hope that it actually is reflective of changes in the broader economy, not just one discrete sector. Unfortunately, I’m just a poor pessimist at heart….

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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