Selling Business on Southern Illinois - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Selling Business on Southern Illinois

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SPRINGFIELD --  Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner hopes a balanced budget, along with business reforms, will help the state grow its way out of some of its financial problems.

He says It's obvious Illinois has a great location, with rail, interstate, river and airport access...but he and others say the state has fallen behind others in attracting business and jobs to Illinois.

Steven Mitchell sells Carbondale, southern Illinois to employers... and lately that's made for a hard sell.

"I had some gentlemen that came to Carbondale from Bowling Green, Kentucky, and one of the questions they asked me over and over and over is 'In the research that we've done, we learned that Illinois is a hard state to do business in, why is that?'" explained Carbondale's Economic Development Director.

He says, things like state regulations and the workman's comp system often raise questions with companies who come to "kick the tires".
And while Mitchell works locally... Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner sells the state.

"I've personally been talking with dozens of companies about coming to Illinois."

And like Mitchell, he's had his share of successes.

"Our administration has worked very closely with Amazon, helping them, they're building a significant number of warehouses, distribution centers in Illinois.  They stated with two and now they're doing many multiples with thousands of jobs being created so that's a big breakthrough."

In fact, Amazon says it plans to hire one hundred thousand people... and no doubt, several will come to Illinois.

One of Southern Illinois' biggest success stories came when Circuit City built this huge distribution center in Williamson County.  Unfortunately, Circuit City's business problems made this only a short-term benefit.

And while state and local leaders can't do much about business failures, they say failures at the government level keep good businesses away.

"GE said,  'Illinois, first choice'  they wanted to move their corporation headquarters and many manufacturing jobs, but they said, 'Governor Rauner, please, show that you're not going to do to us, what Connecticut did, just keep raising income taxes to cover deficit spending and unfunded pensions," explained Governor Rauner.

Southern Illinois still has some success stories, like Aisin, Continental Tire, and others.

"What's good for Carbondale, is good for Marion, is good for Mount Vernon and vice versa," said Mitchell.

He says while he still wants to attract business, he'll spend a great deal of time keeping those success stories here at home.

"It's much easier to take care of business, it's much less expensive to take care of the business that's here already, to make sure they have the assets and infrastructure they need to do their job or to expand."

Aisin expanded and added jobs, even taking over part of that big circuit city warehouse a little more than a year ago.

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