Economist Weighs in on Potential Jimmy John’s Move
By Jeff Bossert
There have been new reports that the founder and CEO of Jimmy John’s restaurants could move his corporate headquarters out of Illinois.
But a University of Illinois Economist says losing such a business would not have the impact some people think.
On September 18, Jimmy John Liautaud was in a panel discussion in Chicago hosted by the Bush Institute, suggesting his licensing division could be moved to Florida as soon as next year, with other parts of the business going to Texas or Indiana in two to four years.
Liautaud made similar comments last year, citing Illinois’ higher corporate taxes. Economist Fred Giertz notes such a move would be easier for a sandwich chain than a company with a large manufacturing plant.
But he says the great concern lies with businesses that shrink or expand, and not those that leave Illinois.
"Whether we have a net increase or a net decrease, that's usually not done by bringing some new firms into the state, or having some old firms exit the state," Giertz said. "Most of it is just existing firms growing or contracting. That's where the story is told. But the visibility is really not there if some firm increases their employees by 10 over a period of time. No one makes a big deal about that."
Giertz also says it’s hard to know what’s reality or ‘fluff', citing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s speculation that different high-tech industries would be coming to the city.
While that might be a boost to Chicago, Giertz says it doesn’t really help Illinois to simply relocate businesses within state lines.