The great salesman
Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller
* May 25th…
Amazon plans to more than double its presence in Joliet, adding a second warehouse that it says will add more than 2,000 full-time jobs to the 1,500 it announced last summer at its first Illinois warehouse.
And the state is rolling out the welcome mat, offering the online retail giant additional tax breaks expected to be worth at least $2 million a year for a decade. […]
Ikea and candy giant Mars also are building new distribution centers in the area, which has become a favorite for national retailers looking to serve the Chicago market, thanks to its transportation links and availability of affordable labor: Joliet in March had an 8.8 percent unemployment rate, well above the statewide average of 6.8 percent, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. […]
Increased demand for its same-day Amazon Prime delivery service and competition from other Internet retail operations, including Wal-Mart, are pushing it to expand the number of warehouses it operates. In addition to the Joliet warehouse, it also on Wednesday announced additional distribution centers in California.
Loving the jobs, but a company with a $338.55 billion market cap really needs another million bucks a year from us to open yet another much-needed warehouse near a gigantic profit center?
* The Illinois Policy Institute wasn’t all that fired up, either…
Bribing large corporations with tax breaks, though, isn’t what will revive Illinois’ sluggish economy and generate more jobs growth. In August 2015, when Amazon announced its first new warehouse and the new jobs that would come with it, it was revealed that the state had given the online retail giant tax breaks worth approximately $1 million annually – for 10 years. The Tribune now reports Amazon’s estimated tax breaks for the expanded facilities are worth $2 million annually. While more job opportunities are necessary for Illinois’ growing labor force, strong growth will not happen unless the state embraces reform rather than handouts.
* But, hey, it’s a done deal. So the state trumpeted all those new jobs and development, right? Nope…
Other governors have used such news to trumpet the good things about Illinois. But the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which is part of the governor’s administration, didn’t even issue a news release about the development.
A spokeswoman for the department led me to an Amazon news release. At least Rauner was quoted in that document.
“By expanding its investments and operations in Illinois, Amazon will employ thousands more hardworking residents to grow our economy,” Rauner said. “This expansion is a vote of confidence in the state’s new way of doing economic development in Illinois with the ILBEDC (the public-private Illinois Business and Economic Development Corp. Rauner formed by executive order) working alongside” DCEO.
I asked Rauner about the 2,000-job development for Will County after a roundtable discussion he had about property taxes and reform at Wiley Office Furniture in Springfield.
“Oh, there’s many companies that are trying to come here, or a few have come here, and many are leaving,” Rauner said. “We’ve been treading water. … I don’t want to go down the list today of the companies who are leaving, and who have announced cutbacks this year and last year. We’re treading water, and we’ve got to grow.”