Group Touts Illinois’ Manufacturing Industry

ILLINOIS (IRN) — From increasing the state’s gas tax and minimum wage to carving out tax credits for some businesses, associations representing different sectors of Illinois’ economy have different takes on how new measures passed during the last legislative session will affect businesses.

During a stop at Mel-O-Cream Donuts International in Springfield, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President Mark Denzler touted the impact manufacturing has on Illinois’ economy with nearly 600,000 workers in the industry.

“For every person directly employed in manufacturing, another 1.6 jobs are created in Illinois, the single highest multiplier effect of any sector,” he said.

There are 592,200 people who work in Illinois’ manufacturing, with an average salary of about $88,000. That provides $52 billion in wages and benefits across Illinois, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association said in a news release.

A report the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association released showed the impact in various counties in central Illinois. In Macon County, manufacturing makes up 40 percent of the county’s gross domestic product. In Champaign County, it is 6.8 percent of the county’s GDP. Sangamon County’s manufacturing sector makes up nearly 3 percent of the county GDP, while in McLean County about 2 percent of the county’s GDP comes from manufacturing.

Denzler said there are challenges ahead, including getting across to legislators and policymakers the impacts of what he called over-taxation and over-regulation in Illinois.

The business group has for years expressed concern over Illinois’ high workers’ compensation costs and the state’s high property taxes, but there’s been little to no movement on either front in Springfield.

“You can’t kill the golden goose with higher taxes and increased regulations and so we’re hopeful we can work with the governor and the General Assembly to address some of these costs,” Denzler said.

Denzler praised the tax credits lawmakers approved for manufacturers. As for small businesses, Denzler touted the elimination of the franchise tax, which he said will lower taxes for around 346,000 Illinois businesses.

“We’ve made some good strides this year,” Denzler said. “We look forward to making more in the future.”

The General Assembly’s decision to double the state’s gas tax will affect manufacturers, which need to transport their products around the country and throughout the world. Denzler said the gas tax increase is a big deal for manufacturers. The higher state gas tax will help pay for a $45 billion infrastructure program.

“You have to have a good infrastructure,” Denzler said. “Nothing is free. The Lockbox Amendment (which limits money raised for infrastructure to be used only for infrastructure) makes sure that those dollars are going to be spent for infrastructure, so those are some important things.”

That gas tax increase, combined with looming increases to the state’s minimum wage has frustrated Illinois Association of Convenience Stores Executive Director Bill Fleischli.

“Actions speak louder than words and [lawmakers’] actions were not one bit for small business. Not one bit,” Fleischli said. “And I think it’s a crying shame that you’re going to see people who have been in the business 50 and 60 years sell their companies.

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