Senator Barickman’s Senate Week in Review: December 1

SPRINGFIELD – This week Senator Barickman joined with other local officials to welcome a major business anouncement in McLean County that will benefit not only the local economy, but the state economy.

With recent reports revealing a mixed bag on employment rates in Illinois, state leaders continue their efforts to improve the economy and prospects for jobs growth in the coming year.

Senator Barickman remains committed to revitalizing Illinois’ business/jobs climate by passing property tax relief, workers’ compensation changes that lower hiring costs, and reducing government and business regulations that divert financial resources away from business expansion.

In other action, the Attorney General Office is reminding shoppers to review the annual Safe Shopping Guide, and the FBI is warning consumers to be aware of cyber criminals trying to steal their money and personal information.

Brandt Industries to buy Kongskilde, employ hundreds near Normal

Senator Barickman joined other state and local government officials today as Canadian manufacturer Brandt Industries announced its plan to grow jobs at an existing plant Brandt is buying in Hudson.

Advanced manufacturing and agriculture are target industries for Illinois, and state and local economic development officials have been working with the Saskatchewan-based agricultural manufacturer for months. Brandt’s deal with Kongskilde is expected to close Dec. 15, and will be the firm’s first manufacturing venture outside of its native Canada.

“We are very excited at the prospect of saving this plant from closure,” said Brandt President Shaun Semple. “This is a world-class manufacturing facility with a highly trained workforce, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to make a tangible contribution to the growth of the American economy.”

DCEO Director Sean McCarthy said the company’s decision to establish its first U.S. facility in Illinois was “a testament to the workforce and assets of this great region.”

Bloomington-Normal EDC officials said Brandt’s selection speaks highly of the state and the central Illinois region.

“We’re extremely excited about the Brandt family of companies’ decision to make McLean County their base of operations in the U.S., establishing their first international manufacturing facility in the Bloomington-Normal area,” said Ham. “Our talented workforce, central location, and long history in agriculture make this the perfect match for Brandt.”

The Brandt Group of Companies include Brandt Agricultural Products, Brandt Engineered Products, Brandt Equipment Solutions, Brandt Road Rail, Brandt Developments and Brandt Tractor — the world’s largest privately held John Deere construction and forestry equipment dealer. Brandt has 50 locations in Canada and the U.S., with nearly 2,000 employees.

Between 300 and 500 new jobs are projected at the Hudson plant over the next 10 years.

“This is great news for central Illinois, and all of Illinois,” said Barickman. “We need to make sure we enact the type of business reforms necessary so that we can have more of these celebrations of job and business growth.”

Employment reports mixed

A recent Illinois Department of Employment Security report indicates a slight drop in the state’s unemployment from 5.0% to 4.9%, which represents an increase of 3,400 nonfarm payroll jobs.  Jobs growth varies according to region, however.

Nonfarm jobs increased in eight metro areas from October 2016 to October 2017, with the largest increases in Carbondale-Marion (up 2.1 percent, adding 1,200 jobs), Kankakee (up 2.0 percent, adding 900 jobs), and Lake-Kenosha (up 1.3 percent, adding 5,300). The Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metro Division saw the largest jobs growth in raw terms, adding 20,800 new jobs, an increase of 0.6 percent.

However, not all metro areas posted gains. The largest losses are in Danville (down 1 percent, losing 300 jobs), Springfield (down 0.9 percent, losing 1,100), and Champaign (down 0.5 percent, losing 600).

Without Chicago-area gains, the state would have suffered a net loss of 2,600 jobs over the year, instead of adding 18,200 jobs.

Governor Rauner strengthens economic ties with Japan

On Nov. 29, Southern Illinois lawmakers and local officials traveled with Japanese Consul General Naoki Ito to meet with key educational and manufacturing leaders in southern Illinois.

The group toured the Aisin Manufacturing campus in Marion. The company’s footprint has grown from one plant to three since the Japanese firm’s first Illinois groundbreaking in fall 2001. Before the tour, business, government and educational leaders gathered for a working luncheon at Rend Lake College, a community college in Ina.

Jonathon Hallberg, executive director of the Jefferson County Development Corp., said Marion and other southern Illinois communities have benefited greatly from the Illinois-Japan connection, which dates back more than 140 years.

Gov. Bruce Rauner also traveled with the Japanese Consul General, and noted that Japanese companies have driven economic development throughout the state.

Bonds issued to pay down debt

In November, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget issued bonds totaling $6 billion to be used to pay down the state’s $16 billion bill backlog.

A portion of the money will be combined with federal match funds to pay down a $5.4 billion backlog in Medicaid bills and other interest-accruing vouchers; and $3.98 billion will be used to pay down the Group Health Insurance bill backlog.

GOMB will also close on $750 million in bond sales in December, which are to be used to fund previously appropriated capital improvement projects.

Safe holiday shopping

As the holiday season gets under way, shoppers are encouraged to review the annual Safe Shopping Guide released by the Illinois Attorney General’s office for information about dangerous toys and children’s products that have been recalled throughout the year.

This year’s recalled products include toys, motorized/electric ride-on toys and scooters, clothing, strollers and other baby gear, as well as furniture and household items. The guide also details the reason for the recall and what action should be taken if you find a recalled product in your home.

If you have any questions about products included in the 10th Anniversary Guide or recalls in general, please call the Attorney General’s Product Recall Hotline at 1-888-414-7678 (TTY: 1-800-964-3013).

The FBI is also warning consumers to be aware of cyber criminals seeking to steal their money and their personal information. Shoppers should be on the look-out for online shopping scams—criminals often scheme to defraud victims by offering too-good-to-be-true deals, like brand name merchandise at extremely low discounts or gift cards as an incentive to buy a product.

Consumers should also beware of social media scams, including posts on social media sites that offer vouchers or gift cards or that pose as holiday promotions or contests, and should always be careful when downloading mobile applications on your smartphone; some apps, disguised as games and offered for free, maybe be designed to steal personal information.

Those looking to make a little extra money during the holiday season should be wary of websites and online postings offering home work opportunities—they may actually become the victim of an advance fee, counterfeit, or pyramid scheme, or become an unknowing participant in criminal activity.

If you suspect you have been victimized, contact your financial institution immediately, contact law enforcement, and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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