Pull out all the stops to attract, keep industries

Vandalia’s latest attempt to both keep the jobs it has and create more jobs is a clear reminder of the current status of economic development.

Fortunately, city officials have garnered the help of state legislators in their attempt to present an incentive package that is attractive enough to maintain Orgill’s presence in our community.

Though details are not available at this time, as is the case with almost every economic development issue, the city has been working to entice Orgill to put its new distribution center in Vandalia. Through that project, Orgill plans to construct a new center measuring about 700,000 square feet.

If it’s successful, the city will retain the 140 jobs at Orgill’s current facility and add as many as 200 new jobs.

Some residents express displeasure when the city offers a package that includes incentives such as tax abatements and free land. But that’s the reality of economic development today – you have to give a lot to get a lot.

Unfortunately, Vandalia is in a state that in many ways presents an unfriendly business climate. When it comes to such things as workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and trucking regulations, Illinois is at a disadvantage to many of its neighbors, including Missouri.

For example, Illinois communities may offer tax abatements for up to 10 years. The other community at which Orgill is looking, Sikeston, Mo., can offer that incentive for 20 years. That difference translates to a whole lot of savings to Orgill and all other prospects looking for a new home.

Though news of this project is just coming out, we do know that city officials have been working with Orgill on this project for some time. And, from what we’ve heard, Vandalia has offered everything possible – including an experienced and qualified work force – to keep the company’s distribution center, and the jobs it will require to operate that center, in our community.

If we are to be successful in our efforts to attract and retain businesses here, the city must pull out all the stops and use all the economic development tools and incentives at its disposal.

If that’s what this latest offer has done, we hope it’s good enough.

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