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Rauner’s alternate-reality on the Mitsubishi plant

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

By Hannah Meisel

* Remember the Mitsubishi plant in Bloomington that shut down in 2016, leaving 1,200 employees out of a job? Brief refresher on the timeline…

July 2015: Mitsubishi announced its intention to shutter the plant.

June 2016: Plant officially halts production.

* But Gov. Rauner seems to be a little behind on the space-time continuum when it comes to this issue, because he keeps publicly implying that the plant sits empty…

“We tried to get another car plant to come in, car manufacturer to take over the plant. No one would come in. No one would even take the plant if we gave it to them because our regulations are so hostile to business and our taxes are so high.”

(Rauner speaking to moderator Charles Thomas at the Kemp Forum in Chicago on Friday, May 11)

* But wait…has the Mitsubishi plant really been sitting empty for nearly two years? The way the governor tells it, no one would be faulted if they believed that to be the case…

November 2016: The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity cut a $49 million EDGE tax credit deal with Michigan-based car company Rivian Automotive.

January 2017: Rivian completes the purchase of the plant.

March 2017: Rauner literally visited the plant.

* So Bernie Schoenberg asked the governor yesterday why he repeatedly acts like the plant is closed and completely unproductive

Bernie: Governor, why did you say last week at the Kemp Forum last week that the business climate is so bad that no one would buy that [Mitsubishi] plant and people are moving out of state from it, when you were there a year ago with Rivian Automotive CEO to open the new plant and the state is offering $49 million in incentives? You have repeatedly said in forums that no one will buy that plant — isn’t that a flat-out falsehood?

Rauner: Um, Rivian didn’t really buy it. They sort of were pretty much given the plant —

Bernie: You said nobody would even take it if we gave it to them. So that was also wrong. You said that last week in the Kemp Forum when you were trying to say how bad Illinois is. I’m wondering why you keep telling that falsehood?

Rauner: There’s nothing false about it, Bernie. We are not competitive on our regulations and our taxes. This is a huge problem. It’s the reason we have outmigration net from the state. And we’re not growing anywhere near as fast as we should. These facts are well-established. We’re working as hard as we can. We’ve added about 180,000 new jobs since I became governor, we’ve been working hard to do it. I’m proud of that. But you know what? We should be growing five times faster than that, and to do it, we need to get regulatory relief on our businesses, cut the red tape. We need to bring down our tax burden. Our taxes are already too high —

Bernie: They have 40 employees already. They have promised to have 500 within a few years or 1,000 to match — to get the state aid that you promised: the tax break. How can you keep saying, ‘Nobody will buy that plant, nobody will use that plant’ when you were there? They have 40 employees, your own Department of Commerce has a deal with them — it’s just a flat-out falsehood, is it not?

Rauner: [laughs] No, Bernie, it’s not at all. That plant should have well over 1,000 people today. And that plant should have brought hundreds of millions of dollars today. We had to basically cut a deal on the hope, on a gamble that it might work out. And it’s the best we could do and hopefully that will become successful someday. But that should be generating tax revenue already today and should be hugely successful over the last five years. Our regulations and our taxes have driven our employers out of the state. That’s a fact and we’ve got to change it. And raising our taxes will not solve our problem.

* This isn’t the first time Bernie has tried to pin down the governor on the story about the Mitsubishi plant: Read his December story here.


  1. - ItsMillerTime - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:39 am:

    Unfortunately for Bernie, Rauner has shown he will look a man of the church directly in the eye and lie to him. So he has no problem lying to a journalist.

  2. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:41 am:

    ==No, Bernie its not at all. That plant should have well over 1,000 people today. And that plant should have brought hundreds of millions of dollars today. We had to basically cut a deal on the hope, on a gamble that it might work out.==

    So we should get our money back?

  3. - Gruntled University Employee - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:42 am:

    That laugh, I really want to play poker with that guy.

  4. - My Button is Broke... - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:46 am:

    Doesn’t everyone have to cut deals for projects like that now? Wisconsin had to give Foxconn around $4 billion for them to locate in Wisconsin. So even if the Governor got all the changes he wanted, I imagine Illinois would still be cutting deals.

  5. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:53 am:

    Rauner should not try to go one-on-one off-script with Bernie.

    Or any competent reporter, for that matter. Rauner simply doesn’t have the goods.

  6. - Linus - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:53 am:

    == Rauner: [laughs] == Whoomp! There it is.

    Good on Bernie for sticking to his guns.

  7. - JoanP - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:54 am:

    =Rauner: [laughs]=

    Well, there you go. That tells you all you need to know about what follows.

  8. - Past the Rule of 85 - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:55 am:

    All politicians put their own spin on the facts. Heck, everyone does it to some extent. However, in the age of Trump and our own Mini-Me version the spins have become blatant lies. Until they are held accountable it will only get worse. The headline of Bernie’s story should be “Rauner Lied about the status of the Mitsubishi Plant at the Kemp Forum.”

  9. - Rabid - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:56 am:

    Didn’t Rauner say “I don’t gamble” these are well established facts

  10. - unspun - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:58 am:

    Ahh…the Rauner Laugh-Lie.
    Chuckles then lies. It’s a tick, a tell. A guarantee of falsehood to follow.

  11. - Steve Rogers - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:59 am:

    Rule of 85: it almost seems like every headline should be “Rauner lied about fill-in-the-blank.”

  12. - Chris Widger - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:05 am:

    ==The headline of Bernie’s story should be “Rauner Lied about the status of the Mitsubishi Plant at the Kemp Forum.”==

    Start your own blog or media outlet.

  13. - Past the Rule of 85 - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:05 am:

    Steve Rogers: Exactly. I don’t know if he would learn from it, but I think others would.

  14. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:06 am:

    ===That plant should have well over 1,000 people today. And that plant should have brought hundreds of millions of dollars today. We had to basically cut a deal on the hope, on a gamble that it might work out.===

    He’s obviously not very good at deal making when it comes to creating jobs. Destroying jobs for a dime in his pocket? Sure. Creating? Not so much.

  15. - Honeybear - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:09 am:

    I’ve consistently mentioned the Rivian deal, made by the non Foia for profit Intersect Illinois as the number one example of pinstripe patronage and corporate corruption.
    Rivian has never made a single car
    Let that sink in
    Every couple of months they have a press piece
    Soon they say
    Like two years ago they said soon
    They store VWs there
    Here Rauner admits
    His Intersect Illinois
    Which he created
    Gave the plant away
    To a shell corporation
    This is why every fiscal conservative
    Needs to be howling
    Ives…..paging Ives.

  16. - GreatPlainser - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:09 am:

    Ok, take out the Rauner bias for a second and think about the words he said…he isn’t wrong. That plant is huge. Rivian claims to someday maybe make a “car” there and employ 500ish people. Lots of unknowns there. First is the fact that Rivian does not have an actual car product to manufacture. They claim to be testing it but no one has ever seen it.

    So what the Governor is saying is “we couldn’t get a real manufacturer to come, so we took a gamble that they might make a car and employ people. But we should have done better, in fact could have given X,Y, Z.”

    This is actually a vary honest thing he is saying. He’s also right. We should want to get a big company who can bring that plant back to its glory days. Instead we just dismiss an important topic because Rauner said it.

  17. - Ahoy! - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:10 am:

    Rauner needs to tone down on the negative rhetoric given he’s our chief marketing person by default, but the problem is he’s not wrong about the need for regulatory reform and not being competitive. If that car plant was in Indiana, it would probably be utilized at capacity and not by a start-up company. Rivian is there because the plan lost so much value because of it’s location in Illinois.

    Yes, I know, Rauner needs to get his story straight and knock off the rhetoric but people need to wake up and realize we’re loosing people and our employment base is stagnant at best and yes Rauner shares some blame, but so does Madigan, Culerton, people who vote, etc.

  18. - Barrington - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:10 am:

    I am really tired of hearing that people leave illinois because of the goverment or something like right to work or Madigan. Most reasons are pretty simple and include the weather.

  19. - Pundent - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:14 am:

    GreatPlainser - I would recommend going back and reading what Rauner said about Rivian in 2017. Beyond the ease at which he lies he unabashedly takes completely different positions on the same topic depending on who he’s in front of. Need further evidence? Google HB40.

  20. - GreatPlainser - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:22 am:

    I mean…come on. People want him to be the cheerleader for Illinois jobs on this issue he did that. Now he’s saying that maybe it wasn’t the best outcome we could have had. He has many faults but what I’m getting tired of is everybody rooting for him to fail. We also have to constantly “gotcha” everybody. Public policy and especially this Econ Development stuff doesn’t going to work every time.

    I’m not saying give him a total pass (I did not agree with bringing Rivian in) but we have to want our state and our leaders to succeed. I really want Amazon to come to Chicago…yes, its a win for Rahm, but its good for our state.

    Getting tired of hearing all the negativity on EVERY issue. End rant.

  21. - Anon221 - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:27 am:

    I have always been extremely skeptical of Rivian’s, but to have the self-proclaimed CEO of Illinois basically throw them under the bus is mind-boggling. Rauner can’t seem to do anything without vulturing over it. And Intersect is just hooting in the woods, it seems.

  22. - Arsenal - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:36 am:

    ==So what the Governor is saying is “we couldn’t get a real manufacturer to come, so we took a gamble that they might make a car and employ people. But we should have done better, in fact could have given X,Y, Z.”==

    Rich put the exact quote in the original post. Here it is again:

    “We tried to get another car plant to come in, car manufacturer to take over the plant. No one would come in. No one would even take the plant if we gave it to them because our regulations are so hostile to business and our taxes are so high.”

    He literally said something completely different.

  23. - BlueDogDem - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:45 am:

    Yesterday with had Pritzker bowling for a pledge to protect access to abortion. Today, old Blue is demanding a pledge eliminating Intersect Illinois on day one. First one in on the pledge gets my vote.

  24. - BlueDogDem - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 11:59 am:


  25. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 12:02 pm:

    –If that car plant was in Indiana, it would probably be utilized at capacity and not by a start-up company.–

    Why do you say that?

    When you use “if” and “probably” to make a point, you can say anything.

  26. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 12:03 pm:


    while I still think they are a con job, there might be a grain of truth in Rivian’s soon statement.

    I have a friend trying to bring a reproduction vehicle to market under a Federal small manufacturers program. He expected to be in production a year ago but the governmental unit in charge has not issued the final rules. So my friend, who has a prototype, has subcontractors / suppliers in place, etc. is stuck on hold, hoping the rules get issued this year.

  27. - Juice - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 12:13 pm:

    GreatPlainser, Mitsubishi laid off the last employees May 31, 2016.

    By January 2017, Rivian had completed the purchase of the plant. Maybe a big company would have been preferable, but those decisions aren’t going to be made within a six month window.

  28. - City Zen - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 12:41 pm:

    ==If that car plant was in Indiana==

    It already is. It’s called Subaru. We hitched our horse to the wrong Japanese wagon.

  29. - Henry Francis - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 12:45 pm:

    The Guv clearly lives his public life unfettered by the quaint notions of credibility, truth or consistency.

    And he can never admit a mistake or fault.

  30. - Anon35 - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 12:48 pm:

    ==It already is. It’s called Subaru. We hitched our horse to the wrong Japanese wagon.==

    You aren’t kidding. It’s like the Japanese version of the thoughtful, environmental-loving urban professional who wants quality and an image that doesn’t wreak of excess.

  31. - Ahoy! - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 12:51 pm:

    –Why do you say that?–

    Because I don’t have access to alternative realities? I’m making a reasonable assumption based on Illinois being near the top of manufacturing job losses and Indiana being near the top of manufacturing job gains. I could link to sites that contain the data, but I don’t really have time for that. Besides, someone could also ask why to anything.

  32. - Honeybear - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 1:39 pm:

    RNUG- there are a lot of hoops that legit business goes through. I feel for your friend. But google Rivian. Look at the articles written. Take a gander at the writers, contract not piece writers, some from Eastern Europe. Then notice what they are working on for “soon”. It changes. Now it’s self driving electric cars I think. Rivian has changed its name and location. Also red flags.
    Intersect Illinois got us into a scam
    What else will we find
    Or not
    Since they are not foia-able

  33. - Linus - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 2:23 pm:

    Similarly producing more whiplash today:

    Rauner campaign tweet, 11:30AM–”A new report highlights Chicago as the most corrupt city in America, and Illinois as the country’s third most corrupt state.” (Because Madigan, etc)

    Rauner gubernatorial tweet, 2PM–”Another great thing about Chicago? We’re an incubator for what’s new, life-style relevant.” (Because yay Amazon, etc)

  34. - Pundent - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 2:28 pm:

    I’m a bit doubtful that Rivian will ever produce a car. But the issue is that Rauner said we can’t give the plant away when literally a year ago he gave the plant away.

  35. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 2:38 pm:

    If Rivian is for real, where’s their prototype? How did it do on the test track? Sorry but they’re not for real. That said Rauner is still lying - flat-out. He said they couldn’t give it away but they did. It’s pretty clear and unspinnable no matter how much his folks may try.

  36. - James - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 6:45 pm:

    = tired of…everybody rooting for him to fail=

    Many of us are rooting for him to fail, so he can’t use some recent positive development as a cornerstone to a campaign that results in his re-election.

    Taking a longer term view, we now know who and what he is–dishonest, and the legislative ally of the wealthiest capitalists against the interests of union members, and people in need of services from the state.

    I would forego a small or symbolic state improvement today in order to be more certain that we will elect a different leader in 6 months, someone who tries to reverse the trend over the last 40 years toward income inequality.

  37. - BlueDogDem - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:03 pm:

    Will someone define income inequality for old Blue.

  38. - James - Wednesday, May 16, 18 @ 10:41 pm:

    I googled it and got this overview

    also look at the trend regarding wealth inequality

    A good modern source is Capital in the 21st Century by French economist Thomas Piketty. You can skim it just looking at the tables and charts.

  39. - Anon221 - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 2:57 am:

    Rauner “spins out” on Rivian -

  40. - MyTwoCents - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 6:51 am:

    Ahoy, I think the issue with Mitsubishi had very little to do with Illinois and a lot to do with their product. Like the articles said at the time it was a decision to focus on Asia. So I highly doubt having the plant in Indiana would have saved Mitsubishi when their vehicles weren’t selling and hadn’t been selling for years.

  41. - RNUG - Thursday, May 17, 18 @ 8:07 am:


    My friend is doing OK. He already has a business converting production vehicles into speciality vehicles. And another business supplying parts for restoration of classic cars. He is actually selling a good portion of the reproduction vehicle he wants to bring to market as parts / sub-components that can be retro-fitted as upgrades to original cars. He’s just frustrated he can’t sell complete “new” cars.

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