U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren said he’s concerned about Wisconsin’s effect on northern Illinois’ businesses and employees.
“It’s tough. Illinois is a challenging place. Illinois can be tough, especially when Wisconsin is not too far away, and they’re pretty aggressive. We need to do everything we can to attract businesses and jobs here,” said Hultgren, R-Plano, during a stop Friday afternoon with area elected officials, educators and executives at the McHenry County Workforce Center in Woodstock.
Hultgren said Illinois also shouldn’t take local businesses and job creators for granted.
“We need to make sure that we’re keeping good businesses and jobs here. That we’re not losing that,” Hultgren said, adding he thinks “it’s a good thing” a state budget was passed Thursday night.
“I didn’t necessarily expect that,” he said. “It’s a good step, hopefully. We want to do what we can to celebrate Illinois and McHenry County.”
Hultgren said “as McHenry County goes, Illinois goes.”
Wisconsin was a concern for others in attendance, including McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks.
“We’ve had some real problems here in our county,” Franks said. “Our location’s great, but our problem is Wisconsin’s right above us and most of our out-migration from McHenry County is going to Walworth County. We’ve been losing population five of the last seven years.”
McHenry County is southeast of Walworth County, which had about 100,000 residents in 2010, and southwest of Kenosha County, which had about 160,000 residents in 2010, according to census data.
More residents moved out of Illinois last year than any other state, according to United Van Lines’ annual Movers Survey.
The company found 63 percent of Illinois moves were outbound.
Franks said the area’s property taxes “are some of the highest in the nation,” which contributes to their problems.
“As a result it’s hard to attract folks here, but if we’re able to get these businesses, we’re able to reduce our property taxes. This is what we’ve been laser-focused on,” Franks said.
Franks praised Hultgren for “being focused on job creation and making sure our economy is humming.”