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Scott Walker Continues Wooing Illinois Jobs, but With a Softer Tone

Wisconsin's governor spoke to a Chicago organization and said he would welcome Illinois businesses that sought to expand or grow, but did not want to "poach" companies.

Expand north, or completely change the address?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his administration have made both pitches to Illinois businesses since Walker took office in 2011. The courting continued this week when Walker spoke to the Commercial Club of Chicago, a civic organization.

The Journal Sentinel reported that Walker said he’s not interested in poaching business from the state, a less direct message than his “Escape to Wisconsin” campaign from 2011. Then, he planned openly to recruit businesses across the state after Illinois voted to increase the business tax.

On Monday, at a press conference following the private speech, he encouraged Illinois companies to consider Wisconsin as a place to expand or grow, according to the Journal Sentinel.

Exactly how successful his overtures have been is up for debate. Internet shopping firm FatWallet.com moved to Beloit from Rockford, bringing 50 jobs, according to the Rockford Register-Star. But while the governor said he has been talking to other firms, he said his administration is not keeping score of any moves.

Indiana, meanwhile, put on a similar full-court press and knows well the results. According to the Peoria Journal-Star, the Hoosier state landed almost 1,600 jobs and $294.1 million in investment from Illinois-based companies since the 2011 tax hike.

Representatives from both states, however, say that despite their efforts to draw business away from Illinois, they consider a strong Chicago and Illinois as critical to the Midwest’s overall success, thanks to their role in international trade.

So who is winning?

Democrats and Republicans against Walker, both claiming statistics to support their claims of failure or success.

Democrats said Wisconsin lost more private-sector jobs since Walker took office than any other state, while Walker touted other federal numbers claiming more than 23,000 new jobs since he took office. Indiana has at least shown the ability to draw jobs from Illinois, while the Land of Lincoln cited a Bureau of Labor Statistics report in April that said it had added 48,000 public sector jobs since the tax increase, according to the Peoria Journal-Star.

As the June recall election came into focus, Walker worked hard to highlight job success whether or not they came from elsewhere. In April , which planned to hire 35 more workers before the end of the year. He , which expects to add a dozen jobs over the next four years. And he made the point that many small manufacturers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill positions.

Comparing apples to apples, Wisconsin has the best unemployment rate of the three in question, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wisconsin is at 6.8 percent, tied for 17th. Indiana is tied for 32nd at 7.9 percent and Illinois is tied for 40th at 8.6 percent.

jukap29 June 28, 2012 at 08:27 PM
well, if old boobs are saggy - why wouldn't boobs up be equated with youthful vibrance? or plastic surgery...
$$andSense June 29, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Well, at least he isn't trying to recruit teachers or public sector employees from Illinois. There is a herd in both fields just waiting to cross the state line in search of minimum wage/no benefits work. No hablo inglés. And poaching in Wisconsin is illegal anyway. I mean deer, not politicians.
$$andSense June 29, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Poaching low wage/benefits teachers and public employees? You go dawg Walker! Wait. Poaching is illegal in Wisconsin. I mean deer. Not people. You go dawg Walker!
Bren June 29, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Hm. Perhaps the "softer" approach (as defined as "sensible") at the outset could have saved our state a good deal of controversy and money. But Wisconsin is the last of Walker's priorities. Licking his benefactors' boots and getting his face on TV/photo opps is what he was elected to do. With a little common sense he could have helped his state and shown his benefactors a little love, like every other savvy politician. Alas....
jbw June 30, 2012 at 08:25 AM
He'll have at least as many beneficial accomplishments to claim as any other politician. Most of them will be questionable because they are either statistical juggling games or because some people don't feel the benefits outweigh the costs. I don't see how that's any different than any other politician you could name. Maybe one day we can move beyond the "everyone on my team is good, everyone else is bad" mentality, but I doubt most people will ever be smart enough to get past that pack instinct.

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