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Kentucky gets creative in billboard campaign to lure away Illinois businesses

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Thursday, November 7, 2019  |  Article  |  By Cole Lauterbach | The Center Square

Business (10) , Economy (34)


 

Yet another state’s officials have their sights on luring Illinois businesses to jump ship and relocate. 

If you’ve driven down Interstate 57 for a stretch, you may have seen a billboard trashing Illinois’ business tax rates or highlighting the states red tape that companies must navigate. 

There’s nine of them as of Oct. 28 and they’re the handiwork of economic development officials from the state of Kentucky. 

“We’ve made tremendous progress over the past four years in transforming Kentucky into a strong pro-business state and an excellent location for companies looking to expand or relocate,” Gov. Matt Bevin said in a news release. “This new billboard campaign is our way of taking our positive message of opportunity to companies that could truly benefit from moving to the friendly confines of the commonwealth.”

Bevin appears to have been narrowly defeated in his re-election effort Tuesday. 

Kentucky joins Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin and Florida in their not-so-subtle efforts to court businesses from Illinois. 

“That's just the beginning of a campaign to catch people's attention like any campaign needs to do and spark some curiosity,” said Vivek Sarin, interim secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.  

Sarin acknowledged that Kentucky's population growth has struggled in recent years, something that's often seen as a negative to businesses scouting new locations. 

One of the most compelling attributes to the Bluegrass state for site selectors, Sarin says, is the state’s right-to-work laws, which say workers don’t have to pay union dues as a condition of their employment in a company whose workers are under a collective bargaining agreement. 

“Very frequently, you get eliminated from the short list and you're not even considered,” he said. 

Kentucky's law recently survived a court challenge. Illinois is not a right-to-work state.