Cronies play candy crush: State pays for Skittles while Jelly Belly leaves

Do Illinois politicians prefer Skittles or Jelly Belly candies?

Inquiring minds now have their answer, since the state gave $2 million in tax incentives for Skittles production while Jelly Belly plans to pack up and leave Illinois.

The trade off? A gain of 75 jobs for a loss of 66 jobs, plus the closing of Jelly Belly’s North Chicago plant – where the candy has been produced since 1978. Those 66 Illinoisans will either be out of work or transferred out of state come October.

The factory will now produce private label food products, which it said “have reported double digit growth in recent years.” It will also do contract manufacturing, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Clearly, the state of Illinois doesn’t believe in a level playing field when it comes to candy production. If it did, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, or DCEO, wouldn’t have granted the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., a unit of Mars Inc., the $2 million tax incentive – plus $250,000 for construction expenses and $37,500 for job training – to create 75 manufacturing jobs at a Skittles plant in Yorkville, Ill.

According to DCEO Director Adam Pollet:

“For Wrigley, the decision to expand in Illinois was clear. Nowhere else offers the skilled workforce, the logistical advantages and the quality of life. Putting down more roots here makes sense for Wrigley’s operations and for employee recruitment.”

If that was true, why did the state have to grant a huge handout to the candy giant?

Illinois politicians love beating their chests over creating new jobs by giving big corporations other people’s money. But the Jelly Belly move proves that many confectioners can’t make it in Illinois’ high-tax business climate without life support from the state.

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