Trade Show Firm Bolting Illinois For Wisconsin

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (CBS) — An Illinois trade show marketing firm is moving across the state line to Wisconsin in the wake of a major income tax hike.

Since raising Illinois income tax rates in January, Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton have insisted the state is still good for business.

But Tim Roberts, CEO of Crystal Lake-based Catalyst Exhibits, Inc., said “not anymore.”

As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, Roberts has decided to move his company to Pleasant Prairie, Wis., taking with him more than 85 jobs, after that state made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Roberts said that his decision to move Catalyst to an empty warehouse in Wisconsin was a tough one, but Wisconsin state officials made it easier.

“The incentives were actually quite good to move to Wisconsin,” Roberts said. “And the trending of where I think Wisconsin’s going versus Illinois, I think is a little more favorable to business. … Just tax increases alone, that was a big one.”

Quinn and Democratic lawmakers in Illinois have said the income tax hike passed in January was necessary to help balance the state budget. Quinn and other state leaders said repeatedly it wouldn’t hurt business.

But Roberts said the tax increase was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back in his decision to relocate.

A $1.2 million loan from Kenosha County and a $500,000 Wisconsin state grant – along with cheaper rent – didn’t hurt either.

“They are out there pursuing us and trying to make stuff happen,” Roberts said. “The same type of attitude just doesn’t really exist (in Illinois.) They’re too busy; I mean, they’ve got a lot of issues to worry about and they’re working on those, but they’re not being proactive in making sure businesses stay and grow in Illinois.”

Catalyst exhibits has 85 employees right now and is hiring.

In a statement, Quinn’s office said company officials never responded to the administration’s request for a meeting.

Roberts said that he was in preliminary discussions with the state about a grant to keep Catalyst here, but nothing formal was ever offered to him.

He also said Crystal Lake officials worked hard to keep them there.

  • Lew

    Many more will follow…

  • Davidd

    Nice going Quinn the idiot. What else will youdo to the state?

  • joannie

    more on the race to the bottom…could boycott Catalyst? avoid all taxes…and see where that gets you, Mr. Roberts

  • Jeff

    Illinois had a Gov. Walker in Illinois once not long ago………….He went to prison!
    Maybe your Gov. Walker will end up there too.

  • Bob Albert

    We run a 96 year old manufacturing company in chicago. The city and state just look for arbitrary things to fine and tax you for.The city and state never try to help you. We now only employ about 100 people because of the high costs of raw materials here compared to asia. Our company only has two enemies: local government and China.

  • Bill S.

    Move to Indiana! Best state to go to because they love good times and great people. Think about the savings your company would enjoy by opening shop in Gary. That city would do anything to get you going there. I am so sorry I voted for that governor.

  • El Roberto

    The companies that leave and flee to Wisconsin will eventually regret their decision… That gov. is a looney toon… (Not that Quinn is the bee’s knees…)

  • Dan

    Sorry El Rob but the looney tunes are here in Illinois where they spend and spend and expect the middle class chumps to keep paying for it……wait I guess we taxpayers are looney too since we allow it to happens and don’t vote them out of office!

    I doubt any business that leaves Illinois will ever look back, unless the politicians rig things to ban them from doing business here:(

    • jeff f

      Dan, if Catalyst employees don’t follow their company and move their families to Wisconsin, Wisconcin gains little tax money. Maybe some will move but most will not. With the reciprocating income tax agreements for individual tax payers between Illinois and Wisconsin and the corporate rates being based on the federal tax systems it seems to me all that Catalyst did was get Wisconsin to help pay for their company’s improvements. Maybe some Catalyst employees will do what the Catalyst owners did when they started in 1998, go out the door with a list of company accounts and clients and start their own company…..Hey guys, I know a place in Crystal Lake Illinois for rent, they are looking for a new trade show company start up in their building!!! I even bet Illiois and the town of CrystalLake will help with financing

  • The Truth

    Another win for Quinn……………………..NOT !!!!!!! Again I want to thank all the pro-union crook county voters for putting this incompetent a$$hole in office!!!

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