Saturday, March 19, 2016

Rival states take their pot-shots at Illinois, Land of Lincoln fights back!!!

It’s not at all odd to see the states of the Great Lakes region compete amongst each other to gain some sort of edge in the public eye – I’m old enough to remember those “Gov. Thompson (as in Tommy, not Jim) Welcomes You to Wisconsin” signs that used to greet people driving north on Interstate 94 out of Illinois.

We don't always play nice w/ each other
Or all those “Illinoyed” billboards that Indiana used as part of a state campaign to try to encourage businesses to relocate to the Hoosier state.

IT WORKED IN terms of drawing some small companies across the border – to parts where they’d still be close to Illinois and the Chicago metro area, which was the source of their real business.

But it never managed to draw anything huge away from Illinois – after all, no matter what the lower tax rates would be, you’d still be in Indiana. “You get what you pay for” is the rule that ought to apply here.

The point of this recollection is that it’s not new for the Midwestern states bound together by their proximity to Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes to see each other as rivals.

So perhaps it shouldn’t be odd to learn that the Whole Foods chain of high-scale supermarkets is making a move of its distribution center that provides goods to their Chicago-area stores.

THAT DISTRIBUTION CENTER had been located in Munster, Ind. – a municipality located right on the Illinois/Indiana border across from suburban Lansing.

EMANUEL: A late Valentine's Day gift?
It’s now moving to the Pullman neighborhood in Chicago proper – a site that offers one major asset that Munster could never have competed with. The Pullman neighborhood is right on the Bishop Ford Freeway, which leads into the Dan Ryan Expressway.

In fact, the site of the new center to open in 2018 will be right on the freeway. It will be easy for Whole Foods trucks to hop right onto the highway, then go anywhere in the Chicago metro area to make deliveries of goods to be sold in their supermarkets. As opposed to now, where those trucks have to fight their way through the traffic mess that often is the Borman Expressway (we really do need the Illiana to be built) before they can get into Chicago.

There may have been some sort of tax break that Munster could have offered through the fact that Indiana does hit its businesses with lesser rates. But they also can’t offer the amenities that a Chicago or Illinois can. You pay more, but you also get more.

Strengthening Midwest presence with Chicago
I’LL ADMIT IT probably was a bit cold for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be seen snickering and to refer to the move as a “late Valentine’s Day (gift) to Indiana,” but it certainly wasn’t any more colder than the trash talk that the surrounding states usually spew – often by trying to portray Chicago as some sort of hellhole that draws everything down.

Which, to me, often sounds like the petty whining of places that realize they can never match Chicago’s many amenities.

Now I don’t mean this as an Indiana-bashing session. Heck, I do work for one of the daily newspapers in Northwest Indiana and often spend time in Gary itself. Which for the record is a place that has so much potential, but can’t seem to get itself together for so many reasons – many of which are beyond its control.

There are times when I think Lake County and the surrounding areas of Northwest Indiana ought to just de-annex from the land of Hoosiers and become a part of Illinois. Maybe our people could make Gary succeed – rather than the Indiana officials who, at times, seem obsessed with the idea of holding that city down.

Could we do better with it?
BUT IT’S NOT likely there will be any shift any time soon of the Illinois/Indiana border from its current location between Chicago and Hammond to some place east of Valparaiso.

But our state may have accomplished something greater for the public image. For it seems the advertising professional who created that “Illinoyed” campaign for Indiana state government now works for Illinois.

Crain’s Chicago Business reported the newly-created Illinois Business and Development Corp. hired Kelly Nicholl – who as it turns out never gave up her condominium in downtown Chicago, even while working out of Indianapolis.

Illinoyed no more?
Perhaps even she couldn’t bear the thought of being too close to the rest of Indiana, which will now be the target of Illinois’ attacks!

EDITORS NOTE: For those of you who'd like to read the Hoosier perspective, WBEZ-FM's Northwest Indiana correspondent provides a comprehensive report.

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