Unless certain policies change, an Illinois manufacturer attending the Manufacturing Leadership Breakfast, on Chicago’s West side, says the Land of Lincoln's already sputtering manufacturing sector will continue to take a hit.
While optimism towards Manufacturing jobs remains in Illinois, Craig Freedman, president of Chicago based Freedman Seating, believes issues with taxes and pensions place limitations on companies. One of the biggest issues facing his and other manufacturing businesses in Illinois has to deal with workers compensation.
“We have a broken system. So, in Indiana, the cost to insure our workers in one third of what it is in Illinois. It is killing us, it’s our single largest line item expense and it’s not getting any better,” said Freedman.
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Despite calls from state lawmakers for meetings on the budget stalemate in Springfield, Freedman and other manufacturing owners continue to grow frustrated by the lack of movement from Legislators.
“And it’s embarrassing, quite frankly, that these people that we’re paying to do a job are not doing their jobs,” said Freedman.
Meanwhile the state's eight-month budget impasse is putting the squeeze on trade schools with some paying out of pocket to train students in the manufacturing sector.
Dr. Chuck Bohleke, dean of business and tech at Triton College says the school can continue to pay out of pocket, but for a limited time.
“And how long we can continue that is dependent on the economic situation,” Bohleke said.
Dan Swinney, Executive Director for the non-profit Manufacturing Renaissance, is confident that if investments come from Springfield to fund educational programs, manufacturing trade schools can thrive. If not, both parties must answer to their constituents.
“Our government needs to in fact recognize how central action is now. That means action to retain our base, to build this educational infrastructure. If we don’t take it to another scale all of our political figures will have something to answer for,” said Swinney.
Illinois lost more than 14,000 manufacturing jobs in 2015 while Moody’s Investor Services speculated on Monday the industry is nearing recession in Illinois.