The winds of change are sweeping through the Governor’s mansion in Springfield and there is great speculation among leaders in commerce and industry what that portends for the business community.
Members of the Board of Directors of the Association of Industrial Real Estate Brokers stress it is important to move past the dramatic philosophical and platform differences between the candidates and to focus on initiatives that will move the state forward, making it easier to do business here.
“The election should give employers in or considering Illinois greater confidence that we will have a functioning, collaborative state government willing to address the issues important to them when deciding where to locate,” said John Coleman, a member of AIRE’s Board of Directors and Executive Vice President for the Rosemont office of Transwestern.
“From an occupier perspective,”” he added, “Our hope is that Governor-elect Rauner will focus more keenly on strategies the state can employ to attract and retain businesses.”
There is belief among AIRE Board members that the exodus of Illinois companies to the neighboring states of Wisconsin and Indiana could slow down.
“I expect that Rauner’s election may slow down what has been a noticeable exodus from Illinois to Wisconsin and Indiana,” said 2015 AIRE President and JLL Vice President Scott Duerkop. He pointed out that had the former governor been re-elected, the number of companies departing Illinois might have continued or even increased.
“There is no doubt that Illinois has gained a reputation for not being the friendliest to businesses, particularly compared to neighboring states,” said Board Member Adam Tarantur, a Principal at Podolsky|Circle CORFAC International. “But coming off the election there is hope in the business community that that progress can come from new thoughts and ideas in Springfield.”
“There is no doubt that Illinois has had a troubled past in its relationship with the business community, particularly compared to neighboring states,” said Board Member Adam Tarantur, a Principal at Podolsky|Circle CORFAC International. “But coming off the election there is hope among employers that we’re in a good place and that progress can come if we see new thoughts and ideas from Springfield.”
“I’m hearing that companies preferring to stay in Illinois and hopefully grow here, will be more confident to do that now,” Coleman said.
While having an overall optimistic view on what the election means for businesses in the state, some members of AIRE’s board note that it’s still early, and that Rauner hasn’t yet articulated the changes he intends to pursue.
Current AIRE President and NAI Vice President Chris Gary concurred, saying, “A lot of business leaders are reserving judgment. People want to be optimistic, but at the same time they are waiting to see the focus of the new administration and the response of Michael Madigan.”
“It’s difficult to tell until he starts in the position,” reflected Duerkop. “But the sheer fact that we are changing, and not doing the same things we have done for 20 years, is very refreshing for users of industrial space and the real estate community in general.”
Tarantur cautioned that while many may be optimistic, being realistic also is essential.
“Governor-elect Rauner needs time,” he said. “Nothing will happen overnight. We’ll know in the first couple of quarters if wheels can be set in motion for positive momentum.”
Gary agreed that people need to be realistic and said most people understand that some of the biggest issues facing the state are not related to who sits in the Governor’s seat. “We have been plagued by inactivity and gridlock,” he said. “There are no clearer resolutions to many of the key issues impacting the state. Our best hope is for Rauner to get the ball rolling and compel our elected officials to work on these issues.”
An interesting insight is that for the first time in years, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois all have Republican governors. Rauner previously has said his roadmap for getting things done would look much like what his role models Mitch Daniels, in Indiana, and Rick Snyder, in Michigan, have done. That likely would include using a superstar team of business leaders to chart a better course for the state.
Earlier this year, in May, Rauner spoke to a joint meeting of AIRE and the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors. At that meeting Rauner recounted commenst by Daniels that Illinois; hostility to business not only hurts Illinois, but hurts the entire Midwest.
“Given what Rauner already has said,” Coleman added, “You may see more regional collaboration, with states working more closely together on issues impacting transportation, infrastructure and other critical matters.”
Gary noted that a lot has been made about the loss of Illinois businesses to neighboring states. But he pointed out that Illinois has made some significant gains in terms of business growth and attraction. “If a company needs to grow, they’ll grow,” he added.
In Duerkop’s perspective, there seems to be a sense among business owners, those who lease, purchase and occupy industrial facilities throughout the metro area, that “Governor-elect Rauner should be given a chance before we totally give up on Illinois.”