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Let’s all try to remain calm

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013

* Buried deep in the Decatur Herald & Review’s story about ADM moving some top corporate jobs out of town was this nugget

Shareholder Martin Glotzer of Chicago, who was openly booed when he asked [ADM Chairman, President and CEO Patricia Woertz] last year about moving ADM’s headquarters, said he knew it would not be a popular question in Decatur. However, he thinks in the long run, ADM and Decatur would benefit from being able to attract higher-quality career people who would rather live and work in Chicago than Decatur.

If the company is better off, Glotzer said it could grow and hire more people. [Emphasis added.]

That shareholder is probably right.

I totally sympathize with Decatur residents who fear what this move means for their beleaguered town. But the company’s CEO has talked for years about a possible HQ move, and if they’re going to move I hope it’s to Chicago.

* So what we have to guard against in the coming months is an intensifying regional battle over this ADM move. We can’t have angry Downstate politicians blocking state assistance solely out of spite. Yes, there should be a robust debate if the company wants any state help, but let’s keep it honest and open. The idea should be to keep ADM’s international headquarters in Illinois if the price is right.

* And, while I’m at it, I’m really getting sick (already, and it’s still early) of the Chicago bashing coming from the GOP gubernatorial candidates. Yes, we have our regional differences, but this is one state, people. Try to remember that.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Levois - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 1:06 pm:

    ADM HQ may move to Chicago, but who’s to say that ADM won’t have an office in Decatur. If they’re going to move they could always make sure Decatur gets something even if HQ isn’t staying there.

  2. - too obvious - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 1:06 pm:

    1 percenter execs don’t want to smell cooked soybeans all the time. I’m shocked.

    Not exactly great for employee morale though that’s for sure. “yeah you folks just stay here in Decatur, we’ll send down some Sox tickets sometime.”

  3. - Elo Kiddies - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 1:09 pm:

    Right on the money, Rich. There is far too much emphasis on who won a county, and not enough on how many votes each side got out of that county. It’s the same kind of simplicity that faults Quinn for winning only a handful of counties and forgets his surging numbers from DuPage and other collar areas.

  4. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 1:09 pm:

    too obvious, that’s exactly the sort of goofiness that we should be avoiding. Please stop.

  5. - Dan Johnson - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 1:12 pm:

    One of the ways to create a win-win is to build a better transportation connection between O’Hare, Chicago and Decatur with off-the-shelf high speed train tracks like the rest of the world is building.

    Standard, electrified tracks (grade-separated) would mean a 60 minute trip from Decatur to the Loop and another 22 minute trip to O’Hare.

    Our geography is causing Midwestern communities to be less connected to the rest of the world because we don’t buy modern transportation technology like high speed rail.

    Wouldn’t that be fantastic? And by the way, the President’s budget includes enough money to build high speed rail over a decade or so ($47 billion over six years in his latest budget proposal). So it isn’t pie-in-the-sky expensive. It’s doable. It’s just a question of our spending priorities. Maybe some would rather spend that money on a militarized border in Mexico. Or even more tax cuts. You get the idea.

  6. - mythoughtis - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 1:24 pm:

    I understand the point, but I fail to see how DECATUR(per the person quoted) would be better off by ADM hiring ‘higher quality career people who would rather be in Chicago than Decatur’. Decatur would be better off by getting more companies to move their offices and facilities to Decatur, or a drivable distance from Decatur.

    I’m well aware that Chicago has a lot to offer, but the trade-offs to live there don’t interest me. For what it is worth, I consider myself a high quality career person. There are lots of other high quality career people that want to live in Central Illinois because it is home and they have family here.
    Chicago has plenty of career choices, regardless of incentives the state does or does not provide. Let’s focus on getting the other geographical areas of the state on their feet.

  7. - Darienite - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 1:26 pm:

    The Pantagraph online edition stated Decatur would remain as the North American headquarters. If this stays true, ADM would still be a major employer in Decatur, and the North American management will still reside in Decatur, with monthly commutes up north.

  8. - Rep. Bill Mitchell - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 1:35 pm:

    Macon County will still be ADM’s national headquarters. Total employment in area 4400 jobs.

  9. - unbelievable - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 1:36 pm:

    Yes Dan Johnson, that would be fantastic. So how do we convince legislators on the “we have to block spending in any form” crowd.

  10. - Ready To Get Out - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 1:37 pm:

    I think the battle has already started. On KMOX in St. Louis this morning they were talking about the move and how St. Louis would be the perfect city to move to.

  11. - A guy... - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 1:45 pm:

    Big companies like(need)a big city presence. It’s a very small fraction of corporate jobs that wind up in the high rises. The huge numbers of jobs stay where they are already; Boeing, Motorola, Sears, etc. It would be best for Illinois for ADM to HQ in Chicago. St. Louis is a lovely place, a fun place, but not anywhere near the status of a World City. There’s only 4 or 5 of those kinds of cities in the country and ADM belongs in the one closest to Decatur.

  12. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 1:53 pm:

    ===Standard, electrified tracks (grade-separated)===

    Dan, I love the idea, but eliminating grade crossings is the bulk of the expense. Tracks are cheap, land isn’t that big of a cost, but building bridges or underpasses is extremely expensive and always ends up breaking the deal.

  13. - LincolnLounger - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 2:05 pm:

    @Dan Johnson: And by the way, the President’s budget includes enough money to build high speed rail over a decade or so ($47 billion over six years in his latest budget proposal).

    I doubt it, Dan. I suspect it’s the same phony stimulus crap that’s going on in Illinois. What Obama and LaHood envision as “high speed” is really just “a little faster” rail. In the end, after BILLIONS of dollars, Chicago to St. Louis may — may — be 3+ hours instead of 5.

    When they get serious about “high speed” and offer something like what is done in Europe and Japan, then I will be interested.

  14. - Just Me - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 2:06 pm:

    Bashing Chicago will always work well in a Republican primary.

  15. - John A Logan - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 2:08 pm:

    This state actually is two states. Perhaps one day it actually will be. One can only hope that the actions being taken in Colorado will be successful. That would put an end to the Chicago bashing, and allow the hyper sensitives Chicago defenders to remain smugly snug in their towers built of unjustified confidence.

  16. - Dan Johnson - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 2:16 pm:

    Grade separations are not cheap. But neither is building any other part of the groundwork for a world-leading economy. If we want to be the most prosperous, profitable part of the world then we have to buy the expensive but worthwhile infrastructure to support those businesses who will take us there.

    And convincing the all spending is bad crowd to have a more nuanced view of our economy is what primaries are for. But even some of the most anti spending people still support capital investments. We just need more of them.

  17. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 2:17 pm:

    And back at ya’ John A. What will downstate do without our taxes?

  18. - Dan Johnson - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 2:22 pm:

    (Don’t mean to thread-jack Rich)

    @lincolnlounger - there is increasing interest in true high speed rail both here and around the country. California is breaking ground this year on Japan/Europe style high speed rail with largely stimulus money. In Illinois we’ve upgraded the UP track and are buying new Amtrak cars for significantly upgraded Amtrak service (which is great). And I hope we are now starting to actually plan for true high speed rail, especially as it becomes clearer that our very large state needs the best transportation the world has to offer.

  19. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 2:28 pm:

    ==but let’s keep it honest and open==

    yeah. Like that’s gonna happen.

  20. - Darienite - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 2:30 pm:

    ==Bashing Chicago will always work well in a Republican primary.==
    But not so good in the General election. You need to get all the Republican votes, even in Cook County.

    Just curious, was that Brady and/or Rutherford doing the bashing?

  21. - one of the 35 - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 3:09 pm:

    It is surprising the number of relocation decisions that are based upon factors you would not think possible. i.e. I remember a particular location decision for a large firm that was made based primarily upon where the CEO’s spouse liked to shop. (Seriously.) For a world class company like ADM, I would guess that proximity to 2 major airports is a deciding factor.

  22. - olddog - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 4:20 pm:

    Uh, what would be the ridership of a high-speed rail line from Chicago to the ADM plant in Decatur? Couldn’t you fit most of those people in a helicopter?

  23. - flea - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 4:53 pm:

    Let’s see…just built a global rail shipping yard which brings major railroads alignment into the equation for logistical purposes to augment there already global footprint…economic impact both domestic and internationally solidifies the existing MONSTER of a processing facility in the ADM/Decatur relationship which will last for decades. Good move!

  24. - William Place - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 5:05 pm:

    “This is one state people!” As a 57 year lifetime resident of Tamaroa, Il. And a multi term Village President and Trustee of same, this is one of the most inane statements I have ever read here. And that is quite amazing on the surface, this has not been one State in decades!

  25. - Quinn T. Sential - Tuesday, Sep 24, 13 @ 9:16 pm:

    Glotzer and I were kindred spirits as Barbarian at the Gates investors in a company five or 6 years ago where there was an effort to overthrow the BOD.

    He is right; except that, as an investor in ADM as well, I continue to believe that if they plan to move, it would be a breach of fiduciary duty to shareholders to continue to stay in Illinois. Irrespective of any EDGE program credits, the long term costs associated with the unbalanced budget, the ongoing operating deficit, the unfunded pension obligations, and the Workers Compensation costs, the company would be far better off to relocate elsewhere.

  26. - low level - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 6:17 am:

    –* And, while I’m at it, I’m really getting sick (already, and it’s still early) of the Chicago bashing coming from the GOP gubernatorial candidates. —

    Precisely Rich. God bless you.

  27. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 8:25 am:

    You really hope that the secessionists don’t have driver’s licenses.

  28. - low level - Wednesday, Sep 25, 13 @ 8:45 am:

    Or roads. They’re going to have a hard time making repairs without all that money coming from Chicago.

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