No sooner had the closing of the Normal Mitsubishi plant been announced last week than critics of Illinois' business climate pounced on the news.
The plant, which opened in 1988 and employs 1,200 workers, will close in November as Mitsubishi Motors consolidates its manufacturing operations in Asia, the company announced July 24.
The Mitsubishi plant was the lone American factory of a Japanese automaker with a workforce represented by the United Auto Workers. As such, it made a fat target for those who have long complained of Illinois' union-friendly labor laws, high workers' compensation insurance costs and comparatively strict regulatory climate.
"The fact of the matter is that manufacturers in Illinois cannot remain competitive given the state's absurd regulatory and business climate," wrote Michael Lucci, director of jobs and growth at the libertarian Illinois Policy Institute.
There's no denying that Illinois' manufacturing economy has crumbled in recent years. But using the Mitsubishi closing as an example of the state's poor manufacturing climate is inaccurate and, more importantly, misses what it truly represents. The Mitsubishi plant failed because Mitsubishi for years was failing in the American car market. Nothing in the Illinois labor or business statutes could have helped a company that had lost market share as Mitsubishi had.
It's what happens after the plant closes in November that will provide the real test for Illinois and its business climate for manufacturing.
Check out how that test might turn out for Illinois' business climate at Reboot Illinois.
Regardless of how that test turns out, one Illinoisan, former Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan, says the state should take a breath and turn away from focusing on Illinois' woes about the budget and its other problems and make a plan for getting to work and getting the state back on track. Check out the seven-point plan outlined by Houlihan at Reboot Illinois.