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A little ADM sanity

Friday, Oct 11, 2013

* Most of the Republican gubernatorial candidates’ reactions to the request by ADM for a state tax break have generally lacked substance. Instead, three of the four have focused mainly on attacking Gov Pat Quinn for holding the tax break hostage to a pension deal

While comfortable ripping the governor for a “lack of leadership,” Rauner acknowledged he didn’t know enough about the Decatur-based agribusiness giant’s tax break request to say whether he would approve it.

“From what I’ve seen of their request, I’d have to understand what the trade-offs are. I haven’t gone deep on it,” Rauner said.

“Corporations are successful because they’re tough and aggressive negotiators and they’re looking out to save every nickel and every penny they can. That’s good management. You don’t blame ADM for that at all,” said Rauner, a wealthy equity investor.

* Bill Brady ignored the fact that ADM has admitted that it currently pays very little state income tax

“We have to face reality. We can’t be populist in this. The reality is because the governor has raised taxes so high, there are other alternatives (for ADM to relocate) out there,” Brady said in an interview on WGN-AM 720. […]

“You don’t tie ADM to another issue that the governor’s failed on,” Brady said of the pension issue. “We need a governor who will move away from the populist point of view and do the right thing in each instance.”

* Dillard

“You cannot hold ADM’s future to pension legislation. It just is illogical and it doesn’t fit,” said Kirk Dillard.

* I hadn’t seen Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s take on the tax break, so I reached out to him this week. He called me yesterday and we went over the issue.

It’s clear to me that Rutherford has put some thought into the matter and is not just looking at this from a political angle.

* While Rutherford made it crystal clear that he wants ADM to remain in Illinois, he said passing legislation to create a special tax break just for ADM was the wrong approach.

Rutherford said he wanted broad-based legislation that would make other companies eligible, not just a specific one. This approach, he said, means “you create winners and losers” and is “not a level playing field for Illinois businesses.”

* When I mentioned that ADM was saying it was merely following precedent after special tax break laws were passed for Sears and CME, Rutherford said he didn’t disagree with the company’s logic, adding the obvious fact that he wasn’t governor at that time.

But, he said, when the state gives assistance to companies, “it needs to be all rules known and applicable to everyone.”

Makes sense to me, but, then again, there are always unforeseen circumstances and special emergency cases.

* Meanwhile

Archer Daniels Midland Co. appears to have expanded its list of potential headquarters well out of the Midwest, to Atlanta.

According to a story posted last night on the website of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a site-selection team from the agricultural giant met two days ago in Atlanta with officials of that city’s corporate recruitment arm, Invest Atlanta, their version of World Business Chicago. (WBC had no immediate response to the reported Atlanta visit.)

The story cited “an individual with direct knowledge of the company’s search process,” and a second person with direct knowledge made sure I saw the story.

When an ADM vice president buys a multimillion-dollar condo in Atlanta, it’s time to worry. Otherwise, maybe not so much.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


17 Comments
  1. - Responsa - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 12:12 pm:

    ==ADM vice president buys a multimillion-dollar condo in Atlanta==

    Well, in Atlanta the condo would only cost $700,000. But geez– the traffic sucks there, and they talk funny, and they sarcastically say “bless your heart” all the time.


  2. - dupage dan - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 12:14 pm:

    I like that Rutherford guy. Such a catchy first name.


  3. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 12:14 pm:

    I appreciate Rutherford’s big-picture thoughts, but someone is probably going to have to pull the trigger on this soon.

    He’s not governor, but he wants to be governor, so it’s appropriate that both he and the other candidates be a little forthcoming with the issue at hand.

    Atlanta makes more sense as a centrally located business center, but it’s not a world business center like Chicago. When Dallas and Houston get thrown in the mix, I’ll start paying closer attention.

    Quinn’s linkage to pensions is bizarre and he’ll probably have to flip on it sooner rather than later.


  4. - Hickory - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 12:24 pm:

    Don’t forget St. Louis. It has a winning baseball team and a good airport for private jets.
    It’s Friday and I suggest the State of IL offer White Sox tickets. There should be plenty available.


  5. - 4 percent - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 12:33 pm:

    Important to keep in mind that this new set of ADM executives are not Illinois natives and don’t have a long standing history in this state.


  6. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 12:35 pm:

    ===a good airport for private jets.===

    ADM’s jets are for short hops. They need to be in a hub city with lots of international and national direct flights.


  7. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 12:41 pm:

    Rutherford brings the logic and a broader perspective. Again.

    Refreshing.


  8. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 12:44 pm:

    === Quinn’s linkage to pensions is bizarre and he’ll probably have to flip on it sooner rather than later. ===

    The Governor’s stance on this = direct contrast to “logic and a broader perspective”. Well said, @Wordslinger.


  9. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 12:47 pm:

    ==They need to be in a hub city with lots of international and national direct flights.==

    That’s why Atlanta makes sense. It’s got the busiest airport in America. However, I have to agree with you Rich that this is not yet a time to freak out since, as ADM considers its headquarters location, there will inevitably be stories of it exploring other places even if it really has its sights set on Chicago all along.


  10. - Under Influenced - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 12:57 pm:

    ==ADM vice president buys a multimillion-dollar condo in Atlanta==

    Not the only one to make an investment in Chicago…Lake Michigan will soon have another large toy anchored along it’s shores.

    Rumored to be called the “S.S. more expensive than a tax break and a M. Kasper salary combined”.


  11. - Just The Way It Is One - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 1:49 pm:

    Quite an array of views there, with Rauner just really copping-out and obviously ill-prepared to discuss such a highly IMPORTant issue to Illinois, 2 of them basically just hammering at Pat Quinn as usual, and DR, who although I don’t necessarily agree with him about further REGulating the process with more “Rules,” (ugh) and who, interestingly, apparently said NOTHing about his view about PQ’s current reJECTion of the ADM proposal and the Guv’s Pre-condition on Pension Reform for such Big Corporate tax breaks while we ALL stare at the 800 Pound/100 BILLION Dollar Gorilla in the Room, actually does provide a somewhat thoughtful response in terms of evening the playing field for such breaks….


  12. - PoolGuy - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 1:56 pm:

    I lived in Atlanta for almost 10 years. and I worked downtown. which was pretty lame.

    Hartsfield has plenty nonstop to Europe and Latin Am (Delta hub). not as sure about Asia. so airport is a go.

    they could locate in Gwinnett or Cobb, or Perimeter area, which are huge bottlenecks and way north of airport. but if they want downtown Atlanta, not even in same ballpark as what downtown Loop/Mag Mile Chicago offer. its lacking. now they could do Buckhead with its huge malls, trendy restaurants and ritzy hotels. but you can’t walk anywwhere unless you want run over. you have to drive.


  13. - escaped from government - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 2:03 pm:

    This is a game being played by ADM to get the most they can and hire the best lobbyist to get what they want. They say CME get what they wanted and figured why not try. The decision was made awhile ago to move execs to Chicago. Several top execs have not ever bought a house in the Decatur area. Several have purchased properties in Chicago area over the past year. Oh, the ADM company jets fly all over the world since they are used by the executives.


  14. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 2:26 pm:

    –This is a game being played by ADM to get the most they can and hire the best lobbyist to get what they want. They say CME get what they wanted and figured why not try.–

    If they were being real hard-core, they probably could have asked for a lot more. The money involved doesn’t approach that of CME (although I’m still pretty confused about the razzle-dazzle in the CME annual reports on how their tax liability changed).

    I’m not a fan of handouts to profitable multi-nationals to stay put.

    But the ADM request doesn’t compare with CME sticking a gun to the heads of Illinois citizens at the depths of the Great Recession at the same time taxpayers were picking up the bar tab and bailing out the drunken bankers who wiped out our home equity, threw millions out of work and generally screwed things up the last six years.

    As someone who’s done a lot of business over the years with the uber-capitalists down in the pits, that one stung.

    They were definitely not walking the walk and it certainly changed my perspective on the sincerity of their “civic commitment.”


  15. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 3:19 pm:

    ha..ceo’s are smart and tough negotiators — something that you don’t want a politician to have. just roll over or kneel down and give the corporations what they want….right.

    meanwhile..how many dominic store closings as they leave illinois.

    corporate run media can push the lost of thousands of jobs off the front pages for the win of a handful of adm jobs — ya know, like how chicago’s triple homicide the other day was pushed off the front pages in a hurry. chicago crime is down.. haha.


  16. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 3:35 pm:

    –meanwhile..how many dominic store closings as they leave illinois.–

    Commentary from the “hit-their-head-on-something-hard” school of economics.

    Do you think The Dominicks is closing because of a bad business climate? Because people stopped eating? For crying out loud.

    Dominicks is closing because they’ve gotten their head beaten in by competitors.

    Their market share maxed at 30% and is now down to about 9%. Terrible management. Their loss, consumers’ gain.

    The Dominicks got their tukkus handed to them by The Jewels, The Whole Foods, The Walmarts, The Targets, The Costcos, The Meijers, The Sav-a-Lots, The Walgreens The Marianos, The Caputos, The Aldis, and more.

    That’s capitalism, daddio. No victims there.


  17. - Chris - Friday, Oct 11, 13 @ 3:38 pm:

    “this new set of ADM executives are not Illinois natives”

    Who?

    CEO has been CEO for 7 years = not new
    COO is Argentine; they aren’t moving to Buenos Aires
    Condo-buying GC grew up in Indiana, went to Northwestern, worked here for almost 15 years.
    CFO is a UC mba grad from Canada
    Most of the group SVPs have been with ADM for a long time, and are midwest kids.

    So, yeah, no overwhelming loyalty to Illinois, but more ties here than any one place else.


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