It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without a few broken hearts. Last week, Caterpillar Inc. delivered the business equivalent of a break up letter to Illinois after announcing it would not be building its new plant in the state. Peoria County had been courting Caterpillar with the offer of economic incentives, but in short, Caterpillar told them “It’s not you, it’s your state’s fiscal mess.” In an email to Peoria County, Caterpillar explained:
Please understand that even if your community had the right logistics for this project, Caterpillar’s previously documented concerns about the business climate and overall fiscal health of the state of Illinois still would have made it unpractical for us to select your community for this project.
Caterpillar intends to continue calling for long-term changes in Illinois and to offer help to the state as it works toward real and fundamental reforms that will position communities like yours to compete for future projects.
While logistics played a role in this particular decision, Caterpillar is sending clear signals to Illinois regarding future business expansions: shape up or we’ll look for a more attractive state. And Caterpillar isn’t the only company looking to create jobs elsewhere. Businesses and families vote with their feet, and Illinois has been losing residents to our neighbor states for years. Without significant reforms to improve Illinois' economic climate, the state can look forward to another lonely Valentine’s Day in 2013.