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Caterpillar CEO says he’s being ‘wined and dined’ by other states

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

In a letter to Gov. Quinn, the chairman of Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc. raised the possibility of the company moving to another state because Illinois is headed in a direction that is “not favorable to business.”

Governors from at least four states have tried to woo the heavy machinery company out of Illinois, and “they make compelling arguments,” Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman noted in a March 21 letter to Quinn, in which he relayed how he had been called, cornered and “wined and dined’’ by other states.

“Before, I never really considered living anywhere else, and certainly never considered the possibility of Caterpillar relocating,” Oberhelman wrote. “But I have to admit, the policymakers in Springfield seem to be making it harder by the day.”

Oberhelman did not cite specific policies he felt were bad for business, but a Caterpillar spokesman told the Associated Press that the state’s recent income tax increase is an example.

Quinn on Saturday said he would speak with Oberhelman about the letter when he tours the plant on April 5. His office noted that Illinois exports jumped nearly 20 percent last year, and said Illinois was fourth in the nation — and first in the Midwest — in job creation last year.

“Mr. Oberhelman’s letter is representative of the collaborative business environment Governor Quinn has fostered in Illinois,” Quinn’s office said in a statement. “The Governor welcomes frank and open exchanges between the business community and government, and we are always open to new ideas that can help our businesses grow, innovate and create jobs.”

Contributing: Dave McKinney

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