Executive outlines ideas to help Illinois manufacturers
A local manufacturing executive Wednesday offered possible solutions to help save Illinois from losing more companies and workers to other states.
Greg Baise, president and CEO of Oak Brook-based Illinois Manufacturers' Association, told members of the Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance during a meeting at College of DuPage that if the state doesn't get its fiscal house in order, more losses could follow.
"Let's be clear, a change in some onerous tax and regulatory policies will not jolt the system into increasing manufacturing employment levels," Baise said. "Even with the job losses we have suffered during the last decade and a half, Illinois manufacturing still provides 12 percent of the states GDP (gross domestic product) -- nearly the same as it did at the turn of the century."
He went on to say that "if we are to compete for the advanced manufacturing operations, the digital and 3-D manufacturing plants, we must change our trajectory."
Baise's remarks came hours after Gov. Bruce Rauner's State of the State speech in Springfield regarding the budget crisis, the ongoing stalemate and a plea to work together.
"We don't want to confuse motion for progress," Baise said during a Daily Herald interview regarding Rauner's speech.
Baise said he will review much of what Rauner and state officials are promising and likely will release another statement on behalf of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association.
Baise has been traveling through Illinois for the past four months delivering his message to help save manufacturing in the state. He has stops planned in Carbondale, Peru and Macomb in coming weeks.
He said nearby states have been surpassing Illinois with manufacturing plants and jobs over the last seven years. Wisconsin created 41,300 manufacturing jobs, while Ohio created 76,700, Indiana created 90,800, and Michigan created 163,700 jobs. In contrast, Illinois lost 1,600 manufacturing jobs.
"We know that what's happening statewide is abysmal. It's pathetic," Baise said.
Besides getting its fiscal house in order, Illinois needs to enact better workers' compensation reform, reform its state tax code and extend some critical tax incentives, Baise said. He also suggests to overhaul property taxes and stop shifting the tax burden to commercial industrial taxpayers. Strengthening education and workforce development are other key components, he said.
"Illinois must rebuild and support its manufacturing base in order to fully prosper," Baise said. "It was once the backbone of our economy and because of policy failures, we've let that firm foundation crumble around us. Innovation, growth, new products, new jobs, revitalized communities, and more importantly a thriving middle class, are all possible again," he said.
"It isn't all gloom and doom. It can be done; other states our doing with less of the natural advantages we hold here in Illinois."