Elmhurst's Greenleaf Foods selects Indiana over Illinois for its new $310M production plant
State Rep. Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) says it should come as no surprise that so many Illinois businesses are taking their expansion plans to Indiana and other neighboring states.
“I can tell you that my constituents say the reasons include less government corruption, a tax climate not so hostile to businesses, and employment laws not stacked against employers,” Mazzochi told DuPage Policy Journal. “[Indiana] is just more of an attractive environment and the cost of living is lower.”
The latest Chicago-area company to take its operations across the border is Elmhurst-based Greenleaf Foods, a plant-based meat company planning a $310 million production plant expansion on a 57-acre site in Shelbyville, Ind. The 230,000-square-foot facility is expected to commence operations in late 2020 with at least 460 workers to produce its product lines of Lightlife burgers, hot dogs and deli meats and Field Roast sausages and roasts.
The expansion comes at a time when the plant-based meat-substitute industry is exploding in popularity, as evidenced by its 17-percent growth over the past year to become a nearly $4-billion industry, according to data from the Good Food Institute. Mazzochi worries that Illinois could be completely shut out of the expanding marketplace without essentially reinventing itself on a number of different fronts.
“Becoming more business-friendly requires significant structural reforms in the way we do funding, controlling spending and changing our general philosophy of what government is supposed to do,” she said. “It’s very sad walking through neighborhoods in the district and just seeing the 'for sale' signs. These are highly successful people who think Illinois is not for them anymore.”
Greenleaf officials said they considered Illinois at one point, but settled on Shelbyville after state officials provided roughly $50 million in government and utility grants and incentives. Going forward, Mazzochi said she and her GOP colleagues plan to continue doing everything they can to make Illinois more appealing to businesses like Greenleaf.
“We’re trying to work hard on every single bill to find people on the other side we can peel off on really bad bills,”she said. “But right now, we’re stymied by the numbers, and it’s incumbent upon us to continue to go out and explain what our priorities are in trying to put the state back on the path to what I call fiscal sanity.”