Peoria, IL--Caterpillar says "no thanks" to Peoria County's offer to relocate a plant in Central Illinois. Instead the company plans to focus on a site in North Carolina. Given the company concerns about the state financial crisis the decision did not catch some officials by surprise.
After a meeting last April Caterpillar C-E-O Doug Oberhelman reassured Governor Pat Quinn the company was keeping its headquarters in Illinois and offered to help the state improve it's image.
"We want a climate that the governor shares so we can increase our business. Who doesn't want more jobs in Illinois," he said.
In a letter to Peoria County board members Caterpillar officials say they are not satisfied with the business climate in Illinois.
The letter says quote "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 still would have made it unpractical for us to select your community."
"It makes it difficult for any corporation to make a long term significant financial investment. So it's in everyone's interest that the state of Illinois address those fiscal concerns," said Peoria County Administrator Lori Curtis Luther.
"Until we address the issue of corporate income tax which they said was very detrimental to them and the personal income tax increase which was detrimental to their employees, the workmans comp rates and many many other thing that are unfavorable for them to be here," said Peoria County Board Member Brian Elsasser.
Peoria County will lose out on one-thousand manufacturing jobs.
Elsasser says Caterpillar would like to see the temporary corporate and personal income tax rate hike repealed. But even if that happened local officials agree it will take time for the state to create a favorable business climate.
"Companies need to make decisions where they can be profitable where they have a workforce that they need where they can reach their customer base," said Central Illinois Economic Development Council President Vickie Clark.
Clark says Caterpillar's announcement in September to modernize it's East Peoria facility and its soon to open visitors center at the Peoria Riverfront Museum are proof of it's commitment to Central Illinois.