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Rick Perry Targets West Loop Financial Firm In Pitch To Lure Jobs To Texas

Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Day two of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s job-poaching trip to Chicago took him to a huge trade show at McCormick Place on Tuesday.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine has learned which Chicago company he has in his sights: Performance Trust, a financial services firm based in the West Loop.

Perry spent part of his day working the crowds at Bio 2013, the huge biotechnology trade show which drew 15,000 people and 1,600 exhibitors from 65 countries and 48 states.

James Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO 2013, said “What’s at stake is if you can build a biotech company in your state, and you can expand on it, it tends to grow and grow. If you look at Boston, you look at San Francisco, San Diego; you can create a hub of thousands and thousands of high-paying jobs.”

But Perry’s push for jobs extended to bus shelters in the Loop, ads on the radio, and even cold calls to Chicago businesses from Perry’s people.

“They called us up, and they came in at lunchtime yesterday,” said Brian Battle, director of Performance Trust

About 180 people work on and around the trading floor of Performance Trust, Battle’s fast-growing financial services firm. The company was founded in Chicago, with offices in the West Loop, but has been targeted by Perry for a two-step to Texas.

“I’m not saying we’re leaving, but … when you hear a pitch from the governor of the state Texas, you have to listen,” Battle said.

Asked if some people might take Perry up on his pitch to pick up stakes and move to Texas, Battle said, “I would think that there would be businesses that have a mobile enterprise, that, sure, that Texas would be compelling, especially given their tax structure.”

Gov. Pat Quinn didn’t seem worried that Perry would steal lots of jobs from Illinois.

“I went to Iraq and Afghanistan four years ago with Governor Perry. All he did the entire time, all seven days, was talk. He’s a big talker. I spent a lifetime with him,” Quinn said. “I think he’s gonna be as successful here as he was in his presidential campaign.”

Quinn’s people maintained that other governors have tried to do the same thing, with little to show for it.

The governor and Mayor Rahm Emanuel both made the case for Illinois on Tuesday, with the mayor announcing a start-up incubator for biotech firms, just as he did for the tech sector.

Illinois does have a lot to brag about, such as a trained workforce and superior public transportation. But the elephant in the room, at McCormick Place and Perry’s sales pitches, has been the state’s uncertain financial future, and the need for pension reform to eliminate the threat of even higher taxes.

For now, only Perry is headed back to Texas, but he does have some folks in Chicago thinking about it.