Emanuel makes an argument for ADM move to Chicago--with or without tax break

SHARE Emanuel makes an argument for ADM move to Chicago--with or without tax break
SHARE Emanuel makes an argument for ADM move to Chicago--with or without tax break

Whether intentional or not, Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a strong argument Monday for why Decatur-based agri-business giant Archer Daniels Midland may not need a $24 million tax break to move its corporate headquarters to Chicago.

It happened when Emanuel was asked what he thinks of Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to rule out an ADM subsidy until lawmakers pass pension reform.

Instead of going to bat for the company whose clout-heavy lobbying team includes two mayoral allies, Emanuel touted the benefits ADM would derive just by being in Chicago–with or without a subsidy.

“First, we have a world-class workforce. Incredible work ethic. Incredibly highly-educated. Thirty-five percent of the people of Chicago have a four-year college degree or better. Around America, it’s 27 percent. Two, we have a world-class transportation system. You can get anywhere in the world, anywhere in the country directly from Chicago like no other city. …Third, we’re a world-class city with a world-class culture with our hotels, our restaurants, our museums, our theaters, our dance, our music. You can’t get that in any other city,” Emanuel said.

“Chicago is a world-class city for that combination. Whether they’re moving from the suburbs to the city or from out-of-state into the city, 21 companies have decided to put their headquarters here in Chicago and much more than that have decided to expand because they see a city on the move….That’s why they always decide…to put their flag down in Chicago and we’re going to have more companies come here.”

ADM has asked Illinois legislators, who return to Springfield for their six-day fall session on Oct. 22, to approve the tax-incentive deal in exchange for a promise to relocate 100 corporate executives to Chicago and later open a 100-employee technology center at the new global complex, moves the company says will make it more profitable.

The company that calls itself, “Supermarket to the World” has said it will keep 4,400 workers in Decatur if lawmakers agree to give it a state EDGE tax credit that would allow the company to reduce its state tax liabilities by $1.2 million annually for up to 20 years.

Last week, Quinn joined Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) in raising serious concerns about the ADM tax break.

“I don’t think any corporation should be seeking special tax-break legislation when all of our corporations know our No. 1 way to help business is to get pension reform,” the governor said.

“We need ADM and all of our big businesses to band together, put pressure on the Legislature, the House and the Senate, Democrat and Republican, to get a vote on pension reform. That helps everybody…We need to have a moratorium on any special legislation for tax breaks on corporations. We have to focus on pension reform.”

The clout-heavy lobbying team assembled to push the ADM tax break through the Il. General Assembly includes attorney Michael Kasper, who helped Emanuel survive a residency challenge that nearly knocked him off the ballot.

ADM has also hired political strategist Greg Goldner, who ran Emanuel’s 2002 campaign for Congress. In 2011, Goldner helped form a shadowy political fund that raised money to help bankroll the aldermanic campaigns of Emanuel allies. Goldner has also worked behind the scenes to promote the mayor’s education agenda.

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