ICYMI, our governer made it a point to disparage C-U in an interview with WGN radio this week, as he was attempting to make a point about University of Illinois graduates seeking jobs elsewhere, rather than staying in here.
"There are several reasons, but part of the reason is Champaign-Urbana is wonderful. But it’s very hard to keep a company of more than six people there. There’s no convenient transportation, not much of a workforce, and it’s very hard."
Yeah, he poked the bear on that one. We "down-staters" tend to be pretty fiercly defensive of what we have going on here, and the backlash was swift and pointed. It took less than a day for those who have a stake in the well-being of our community to jump on this and release a statement:
In response to Governor Rauner's comments on the radio yesterday, we have the
Champaign County has been a shining star of economic growth in the State of Illinois for a number of years. Home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the top research institutions in the world, and also employers like Wolfram, Heinz Kraft, Carle, FedEx, Parkland College, OSF HealthCare, Christie Clinic, Oath (Yahoo), Amdocs, Agrible, Granular, and Busey, not to mention the University of Illinois Research Park which is home to 115+ high-tech companies, from startup to Fortune 500, and has 2,000+ employees combined, we are proud of the following:
- We have direct access to three interstate highways, plus rail and air
- Champaign-Urbana was the state’s fastest-growing city in 2017 – when looked at
together, Champaign-Urbana is the sixth largest city in the State of Illinois, ranking just ahead of Springfield and Peoria
- A low unemployment rate of 3.5% (Champaign County)
- During the past five years, Champaign has added 2,589 jobs
- The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District had more than 12 million riders in 2016 and 2017 – in 2016, ridership topped that of Rockford (IL), Indianapolis (IN), and Nashville (TN)
- 156,000+ Amtrak passengers from Illinois Terminal
- Added United Airlines service from Willard Airport to Chicago in 2017 and set a 10-
year record in enplanements
- Consistently ranked as bike friendly, a top college town, age and family friendly, and was recently named Best Midwest Food Town by Midwest Living Magazine
- We are a diverse and welcoming community
We recently celebrated a homegrown success story – the expansion of II-VI EpiWorks,a leading provider of compound semiconductor epitaxial wafers. The expansion, which included support from the State of Illinois through an EDGE grant, included the building of two new structures, a 17,888 SF clean room and 24,966 SF office building. The project has enabled the creation of 100+ technology jobs and numerous operations and administrative support positions. This is just one of the many success stories in Champaign County – and we look forward to creating more.
We ask that Governor Rauner join us in our success and support the continued
economic growth of Champaign County.
Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen, City of Champaign
Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin, City of Urbana
Mayor Joan Dykstra, Village of Savoy
Sean M. Widener, Village President – Village of Mahomet
Village of Rantoul
Champaign County Economic Development Corporation
Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District
Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Visit Champaign County
Champaign County Regional Planning Commission
As a result, Rauner, when meeting with several members of the Champaign County First group currently in D.C., "apologized." According to a statement from his campaign, Rauner “clarified his firm belief that Champaign-Urbana is doing an outstanding job in economic development.” Which is basically the exact opposite of what he said originally, so sure. It's like when the kids are fighting and you force them to apologize and each say something nice about the other one.
Photo is a screen shot from this Rauner ad.