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updated: 10/1/2013 12:17 PM

ADM seeks Ilinois tax breaks of around $20 million

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  • St. Louis and Chicago are now making a pitch for the suddenly free-agent global headquarters of the agribusiness Archer Daniels Midland Company, which is currently in Decatur.

      St. Louis and Chicago are now making a pitch for the suddenly free-agent global headquarters of the agribusiness Archer Daniels Midland Company, which is currently in Decatur.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
Associated Press

Archer Daniels Midland Company has told an Illinois House committee it's seeking about $20 million in tax credits as it decides whether to keep its global headquarters in the state.

ADM consultant Mike Kasper told lawmakers Tuesday that the agribusiness wants legislation letting it apply for tax credits worth around $1.2 million annually for 20 years.

One legislator asked ADM's chief financial officer how a comparatively small credit mattered to a multibillion-dollar company. Ray Young said watching "nickels and dimes" has made ADM successful.

The executives added they're no longer pursuing one proposal that ADM also receive a break on utility taxes.

ADM wants to move its global headquarters out of Decatur in central Illinois. It will keep the bulk of its operations there.uld be flattered by the attention and use it to get others to give it a look."

ADM, which turns corn, soybeans and other crops into everything from animal feed to ethanol, has said it will keep its North American headquarters in Decatur, along with about 4,400 jobs -- roughly one-sixth of its 30,000 employees worldwide.

Neither Chicago nor St. Louis is saying much about incentives they may be willing to offer, including any potential tax breaks that could be part of a deal. And it remains to be seen whether ADM's decision may be swayed by Illinois' dismal fiscal outlook -- it's nearly $100 billion behind in funding its pension liability and recently hiked the corporate tax rate by 30 percent, prompting some companies to threaten to leave Illinois.

A spokesman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Tom Alexander, would only say: "We'll do our best to keep them in Illinois."

That's not to say St. Louis hasn't had its own struggles. Over about the past two decades, the region has lost global bases for Anheuser-Busch, McDonnell Douglas, May Department Stores, Trans World Airlines and others to mergers.

Jamboretz shrugged off those losses, pointing instead to what may be the region's biggest selling point: It's already home to Monsanto, a global leader in genetically modified crops, and Bunge North America, a diverse agribusiness and food company.

Monsanto plans a $400-million expansion of its suburban St. Louis research center, heralding that it could bring 675 new jobs to the region. And the area also boasts the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, a 227-worker research institute that soon will undergo a $45 million upgrade, including a new building to accommodate more than 100 additional researchers.

ADM spokeswoman Victoria Podesta acknowledged that the company "is having discussions with various public officials," though she wouldn't elaborate. "We would like to do this in a low-key way," she said.

But there is no shortage of partisans who would tout their city over the competition. St. Louis fans might point out that the Cardinals have won 11 World Series since the Cubs won their last in 1908, six years after George A. Archer and John W. Daniels started their linseed-crushing business.

"I'm sure the Cubs would want to sell (ADM executives) season tickets and a luxury box, but the question is whether the company would want to buy them, with the way the Cubs have been down so much," acknowledged Al Yellon, a Chicago Cubs blogger.

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