Texas Governor Rick Perry visits Illinois looking to poach businesses

April 23, 2013 (CHICAGO)

If attention at the BIO International Convention is what the Texas Republican wanted, he got it. The Texas governor, whose primary purpose in visiting Chicago is to attend the convention, said publicly before his arrival that Illinois-based companies should consider the Lone Star State as a better place to do business.

"I think Governor Quinn and Rahm Emanuel would say different, but it's rather inarguable that Texas is the number one state in the nation to do business," said Perry.

A spokeswoman for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who keynoted the convention's opening session, called Perry's effort "a publicity stunt". Quinn, who shared a room with Perry on a trip to Afghanistan four years ago, said the Texas governor was in character.

"He's a big talker, he talks all the time, he never stops talking," said Quinn.

Perry was one of more than a dozen governors at the convention, all on the make for biotech-related firms to relocate to their particular states.

"The Show-Me State had a very good day today by announcing a $400 million expansion for Monsanto," said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D).

"It's not about stealing companies or stealing employers as much as saying for those who want to grow, who want to expand, we're making a pretty compelling case - it's just up the way in Wisconsin," said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R).

Illinois has the worst pension debt of any state and a 9.5 percent unemployment rate. On Tuesday, the American Economic Development Institute called Illinois "the third worst state for economic development".

Governor Quinn responded, saying more companies are moving to Illinois than leaving here.

"We have great workers, well-skilled and well-educated workers, we have great transportation, can get to places quickly, and we also have a government that works with business," said Quinn.

The biotech convention includes thousands of companies and 65 countries representing some of the largest companies in the world, drawing tens of thousands of people to the Chicago area, and the Texas governor was able to succeed in grabbing the spotlight by trashing the host state's economy.

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