Sen. Neil Anderson (R-Moline)
A decade ago, gun maker Les Baer made the decision to leave Illinois for good, moving from rural Hillsdale, Illinois to LeClaire, Iowa. Despite its success as an Illinois company, moving a short distance into Iowa made good business sense for them. Today, Lewis Machine & Tool Co. will soon be moving their new firearms manufacturing plant and headquarters in Eldridge, Iowa from Milan, Illinois.
This moving doesn’t end with businesses. For years, Illinois’ loss has been Iowa’s gain in people, too.
A 2017 U.S. Census estimate showed that since the 2010 census, it’s estimated Rock Island County lost nearly 2,800 people.
In 2017, another report highlighted similar numbers. From 2010 to 2015, they report Rock Island County shrunk by 1,500 people and Henry County lost 1,000 residents. Meanwhile, over that same period, Scott County in Iowa saw 6,400 new residents move in.
Employers and families are continuing to leave Illinois at an alarming rate. Living in a border community makes it all too easy for people in our region to simply move across the river.
So how can we make our area grow at a stronger rate, be more competitive, and help job creators and the people who want to live, work, and raise a family in Illinois?
I am co-sponsoring legislation, Senate Bill 3285, which requires the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to develop a plan to assist employers in Illinois border communities to help retain them in our state. This includes economic assessments, recommendations, and resources relevant to assisting these job creators. Illinois has to do better. Having a good strategy and receiving sound advice from economic development specialists will help our regional economy grow and become more competitive in securing good job opportunities.
With an uncertain financial, regulatory, and legislative landscape, Illinois creates an environment that doesn’t encourage or welcome job creators into our communities as well as we should.
Our region has all the things we need to be a place for businesses to grow and people to live. We have fantastic and visionary community leaders. We have a great location and solid transportation infrastructure. We have great educational and job-training programs. We have a high quality workforce, led by an organized labor community who take pride in being an invested partner in the success of our communities. The partisan politics and squabbling in Springfield, however, is what keeps us from being an attractive place to start a new business or grow an existing one.
The only way we can reverse this trend is by changing the way Illinois government operates. As the State Senator with the most independent voting record, I am again calling for more cooperation and bipartisanship and less political gamesmanship and gridlock.
So many families and businesses moving from Illinois to Iowa has to tell us we’re doing something dreadfully wrong.
We must work together to pass laws that will grow jobs, give a financial boost to working families, and keep Illinois employers here. We need bipartisan and effective regulatory reform to cut the time for licensing and streamline compliance. We need to reform Illinois’ second highest property tax rate in the country. We must support and welcome job creators into Illinois instead of chasing them out with more rules, regulations, fees, taxes, and continued uncertainty about our future.
Instead of raising income taxes on working families and employers like the General Assembly did last year – something I didn’t vote for – we need to grow the tax base instead of the tax rate. We need to offer relief, not more burdens, on the people of Illinois.
– Sen. Neil Anderson (R-Moline), a Moline firefighter and paramedic, was sworn in to represent the 36th District in the Illinois Senate on January 14, 2015. The 36th District includes portions of Rock Island, Whiteside, Carroll, and Henry Counties.