Rockford manufacturing industry leaders take stock of Prizker’s ‘State of the State’ address

Made in the Stateline

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A little more than a year into his job, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker laid out groundwork for the future in his “State of the State” address Wednesday.

Pritzker touted his accomplishments, including childcare, bridges, education and agriculture.

Mark Denzler, of the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association, says he didn’t do it alone.

“We worked with the governor on capital infrastructure, investing in workforce, extending research, and development tax credit,” Denzler said.

The Illinois Manufacturer Association represents nearly 600,000 workers in the state.

“Half of those workers are going to retire in the next 10 or 15 years. So we need 20,000 production workers and 3 to 5,000 engineers just to remain constant,” Denzler said. “Finding qualified workers is a challenge. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Fortune 50 company or you’re a small family-owned tool and die shop in the Rockford area.”

That’s why Denzler and his organization helped pass an apprenticeship tax credit last year.

The measure offset training costs to develop a worker pipeline. The IMA also worked on a bill that provides tax credits to companies to improve their products.

“Research an development is the lifeblood of any manufacturer. Manufacturers are continually building new products, they’re improving on current products and we have to [provide an incentive to] research and development in Illinois and in manufacturing,” Denzler said.

While Denzler says he’s encouraged by what has been accomplished, he also worries about the future.

He agrees with the governor that the state needs tax reform, but believes Pritzker’s proposed graduated tax isn’t the answer.

“Whether it’s farmers in Winnebago County or manufacturers, they pay significantly high property taxes, and it makes it difficult when you want to buy a new piece of land or sell your property,” Denzler said. “When we see folks looking at businesses, we hear often times about the high property tax cost as a detriment in Illinois.”

Denzler says there’s also talk about the state heading toward zero-carbon emission standards, which he believes could increase energy costs by hundreds of millions of dollars for businesses and families.

Supporters argue the energy and environmental savings will be even more than that.

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