The economy is front-and-center in the race for Illinois governor.
Both Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner want to make Illinois a good place for business.
But the plan to move Bituminous Insurance from Rock Island to Davenport raises a red flag.
This is an image battle that crosses state borders.
Bituminous plans to leave Rock Island. It will take 150 jobs to Davenport. The move symbolizes a one-way business exodus from Illinois to Iowa.
“We have to be sensitive to those counties that are very close to the border,” said Paul Vallas, Gov. Quinn’s running mate.
Concerns that are playing a role in the Illinois governor’s race. After 40 years in Rock Island, Gray Machine and Welding nearly left Illinois for Iowa.
“Fees in this state are just out of sight,” said owner Hank Gray, back in February. “This state is not business-friendly.”
That got the attention of Rauner at the time. He plans to shake up Springfield with new ideas.
“The business climate is hostile,” Rauner said. “The taxes are too high. The regulations are bad, and we’re seeing companies leaving. We’ve got to turn this around.”
What happens next could change negative perceptions about Illinois. Attitudes that also shape business at the local level.
The QC Coffee and Pancake House is just around the corner from Bituminous in Rock Island.
“It’s kind of a bummer to lose regulars that we’re used to coming in,” said server Virginia Atwell.
Regulars account for nearly all of its business. It’s a local business that depends on Illinois stability. For Atwell, it’s more than just serving good food.
“I think convincing people to stick around can raise challenges,” she said.
While Bituminous isn’t talking about its plans, it is sending a message to candidates.
“We’ve got to be in a position to provide targeted tax relief,” Vallas concluded. “Provide subsidies for businesses, and find ways to reduce local business costs.”
Themes from the campaign trail that have real-life consequences for Illinois businesses.