Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Can we keep a major business here, or will Ill. lose to Mo. or Minn.?

Call it one of the unique characteristics of Decatur, Ill. – the smell.

Literally, there’s an aroma in the air that comes from the plants that process soybeans at the major companies based in that central Illinois municipality.

ONE OF THOSE companies is now throwing out big hints that it plans to leave Decatur, and it seems that Illinois is now going to be in a fight to try to keep such a major global company that happens to be based within its boundaries.

I’m referring to Archer Daniels Midland, Co., which came out with a statement letting it be known that they plan to move their “world” headquarters to a new city. It seems that the people in charge of that company think they need to be in a more easily accessible location.

Instead of one where you take the Interstate to Springfield, then make a left and drive about a half-hour until you get to the “Welcome to Decatur” sign that lets you know the city is the one-time home of the team now known as the Chicago Bears.

“To continue to succeed, we need a global center in a location that allows us to travel and work efficiently,” the company said, in a prepared statement. “We also need an environment where we can attract and retain employees with diverse skills.”

CRAIN’S CHICAGO BUSINESS reported Monday that ADM isn’t necessarily a loss of a business from Illinois. Because it seems that one of the places under consideration for the new world headquarters is Chicago.

What if A.E. Staley joined the Bears in Chicago?
Which for all the rants and rages we get from rural Illinois people about how nobody in their right mind wants anything to do with the urban clutter of Chicago (let's not forget that it was a Decatur-area state legislator who came up with a nonsense bill to "kick" Chicago out of Illinois) must be a real blow! Although it also can be perceived as, “Yea for us!”
If we can keep it. Because while Chicago has a major international airport, several railroad lines and interstate highways that run in all directions, it might not be enough.
Because St. Louis and Minneapolis also are under consideration, according to Crain’s.

THEY MIGHT NOT have O’Hare International, but Lambert or Minneapolis-St. Paul airports would probably do the company just as well.

We’re going to get a test of how credible a job our state can do in terms of keeping a major corporate interest. Certainly more of a test of how it appeals to business interests than that attempt by Gov. Pat Quinn a couple of weeks ago to boast that Mike’s Hard Lemonade brought its corporate headquarters to Chicago.

This has a potential to create many jobs. Because it’s not just corporate offices and executives who will move, the company says it plans to develop a technology center in conjunction with its new offices.

It could be a significant coup for Chicago if this company winds up here. It would be a blow for the city and for Illinois if we wind up losing Archer Daniels Midland to a surrounding state in the Midwest.

I SUPPOSE WE could claim that if it went to St. Louis, it wouldn’t be much of a loss – since part of the St. Louis metro area does spill over into Illinois. So we might be able to claim there’s a chance that Illinoisans could get some of those jobs.

Although why should we hope for a partial benefit, when we could claim the whole thing if our elected officials are capable of drawing Archer Daniels Midland to the Second City.

How is this destined to play out? Will it be like when the original Decatur Staleys football team ditched the “Pride of the Prairie” to come to Chicago and become the Bears?

Or will it be like when Chicago’s original National Football League team, the Cardinals, ditched the Sout’ Side for St. Louis?


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