|Automation and outsourcing to other countries have partly driven this trend. But another driver, especially in recent years, is that manufacturers are passing up Illinois for surrounding states. The problem that Oberhelman addressed is that industrial companies looking to grow in the U.S. are avoiding Illinois.
His message ended with a clear choice for Illinois:
“Business leaders are making decisions today on where to invest in the future. Illinois must act now, with a bipartisan sense of urgency, to position itself for future job creation that is being discussed in boardrooms all across this country. I want Illinois to be in the hunt for those types of investments, including investments by Caterpillar. Illinois deserves it.”
Politicians didn’t heed Oberhelman’s advice, and the results are in: Illinois’ blue-collar middle class is struggling. After four years of delay, it’s even more urgent that the state act. Working-class Illinoisans deserve rewarding careers and opportunities in industries such as manufacturing, and it’s up to policymakers to clear the barriers that are keeping companies away.