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We’re not as hostile as you might think

Friday, Mar 27, 2009

* It turns out, we’re not so bad. At least according to a new report from Ball State University’s Miller College of Business…

The report lists Illinois’ overall attractiveness to manufacturers as 9th of the 50 states. The list is headed by Utah, followed by Indiana, Missouri, Kansas and Alabama.

One problem, of course, is that the much higher ranked Indiana and Missouri are right next door.

Michael Hicks, who headed the research team at Ball State, said that while surveys of overall business climate generally favor Southern and Western states, Illinois and the Midwest contain geographic and infrastructure advantages that are valuable to factory owners.

Thus, while Illinois got a “D” for tax climate, its lowest grade, it received an “A” for global position and a “B” for human capital, with an overall grade of “B-.”

In comparison, Texas, often considered a great state for business, received a grade of “F” on the quality of its work force.

Take that, you illiterate cowboys.

Illinois received a “C” rating in “logistics.” The grade for that category is partially based on “infrastructure spending as the per capita expenditure on highway construction.”

A capital bill would improve our ranking, not to mention create jobs and do a lot of good in the process.

* But how much good will the guv’s capital bill really do?

Greg Hinz shows how the guv’s infrastructure plan is not all it’s cracked up to be, and that mass transit is getting the short end of the stick

Mr. Quinn says his plan overall would spend $26 billion on roads, transit, schools, broadband and other infrastructure. But only $8.7 billion of that money is new — specifically bonds that would be financed in part by an income tax hike and by increases in vehicle-license fees. And only a fraction of that, $1.5 billion, would be available for transit, state officials confirm.

More…

“The capital plan proposed in Springfield isn’t enough to even keep the current [mass transit] infrastructure in its current condition, much less make the investment needed to meet growing demand,” said Brian Imus, director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group.

* Because holding down utility costs also helps manufacturing, let’s take a look at yet another Crain’s story. The governor appears set to appoint his policy director, Michelle Saddler, as ICC chair…

Sources caution that there’s a small chance someone else might emerge as Gov. Quinn’s choice. While Ms. Saddler is described as a “quick study,” she has no experience in the arcane, legalistic field of utility regulation. An announcement is expected within the next few weeks.

Considering that the current ICC Chairman is the former mayor of Rockford, that lack of experience shouldn’t be a huge problem. Still, what is it with the governor’s inexperienced appointments?

This is a very important appointment because of the current ICC makeup…

If she’s appointed, Ms. Saddler is expected to take the commission, which has been accused of being too cozy with utilities, in a new direction. Four of the five commissioners frequently split between consumer- and utility-friendly positions, leaving the chairman, Charles Box, to cast the deciding vote on requests to raise rates. Mr. Box, an appointee of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, often sided with the utilities

Blagojevich always talked a good game about utilities, but he packed the ICC with pro-utility hacks.

Let’s take a short trip down memory lane…

Officials at the state’s largest electric utility have been interviewed as part of a federal corruption investigation with ties to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. A spokeswoman for Commonwealth Edison, which serves 3.8 million customers in Northern Illinois, acknowledged the company’s involvement in the probe Thursday, which has targeted Christopher Kelly, a friend and former adviser to the governor. […]

Kelly’s company, BCI Roofing, began doing roofing work for ComEd in 2003, the same year Blagojevich took office as the first Democrat governor in 25 years.

Blagojevich made a ton of pro-utility moves in 2003, and it may not be hard to figure out why.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

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