Blue Island business moves to Indiana

August 23, 2011 8:11:26 PM PDT
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels welcomed an Illinois business to the Hoosier State Tuesday. Modern Forge is moving from Blue Island to Merrillville, bringing hundreds of jobs with it.

The Blue Island facility has been around for nearly a century, and on Tuesday, the head of Modern Forge called the company's move bittersweet. Still, he said savings will be significant and singled out Illinois' corporate environment as factor

On Tuesday, at its soon-to-be newest plant, the head of Modern Forge explained its move to Indiana.

"Illinois needs to change an environment, not just a political environment but a business environment," said Greg Heim, CEO of Modern Forge.

The move, according to Daniels, makes Modern Forge the 13th Illinois company to move to Indiana after Illinois raised its corporate tax burden more than 2 percent last January.

"Taxes are too high, work comp is too high, we have too much litigation, so it's just not an attractive place to do business," said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady.

At the same time, Indiana's corporate rate is being lowered 2 percent.

"The arithmetic tells them it's less expensive to hire people here," said Daniels. "You've got a little better chance of getting your money back, if you risk it, on a business here."

Modern Forge says Merrillville officials offered generous tax breaks, but taxes alone were not the sole factor.

The town has agreed to make infrastructure improvements, and the new facility, which has sat empty for three years, is a more open and modern space compared to the Blue Island factory, allowing for lower energy costs and greater efficiencies.

"I think it was affordable to them, the price was right, and the taxes were in the right area for them," said Merrillville Councilman Shawn Pettit.

Company officials say they do not know how many of the current Blue Island workers will be offered jobs at the Indiana facility, but Merrillville officials are urging modern forge to hire at least 10 percent locally.

"It's a good area to live in - it's an absolutely great area to bring your children up," said Merrillville resident Carol Kalmar, also noting her strong opinion of the business climate.

"We have said in Indiana, we're not going to let anything get in the way of trying to bring family-supporting jobs to this state," said Daniels.

On Tuesday, at his own jobs event, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn downplayed the move by Modern Forge, saying companies come and go for various reasons, and he used truck and engine maker Navistar as an example of a company moving jobs to Illinois from Indiana.

Daniels says he will continue his efforts to lure businesses, including a multi-million dollar ad blitz.

Modern Forge has not said how many Chicago workers will have jobs at the new plant.

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