Governor Bruce Rauner says Illinois will see a net gain of jobs from a Fortune 500 company that just received state tax breaks.
ConAgra already employees Illinois workers, but it's transferring them from Naperville to Chicago. That’s part of a larger move to the city from its headquarters in Omaha.
"Getting corporate headquarters for a Fortune 500 company like ConAgra is a big deal long-term to the economic growth in Illinois,” Rauner said. “So getting ConAgra here is a big deal. And they will be adding jobs. We would not give them EDGE credits unless they were adding jobs."
Rauner’s remarks come after a Chicago Tribune analysis last week raised questions about whether the EDGE deals actually help the state's economy. The analysis found that dozens of companies getting these lucrative tax breaks have simultaneously eliminated some 20,000 jobs.
The governor previously said no EDGE tax credits would be granted as long as Illinois is without a budget. But Rauner, a Republican, says he's making an exception for ConAgra.
"The ConAgra EDGE credits were actually granted in the spring, prior to the freeze,” Rauner said. “So that's an old, prior agreement. Partly because those negotiations have been going on for a long time."
ConAgra makes foods, including Orville Redenbacher's microwave popcorn and Chef Boyardee products.