MillerCoors LLC has picked downtown Chicago, despite its higher costs and high corporate tax rates, as the location for its new corporate headquarters.
Metropolitan Milwaukee, already reeling from the loss of 1200 family supporting jobs at Delphi and Midwest's plans to eliminate another 1200 positions, will lose between 150 and 175 jobs as a result of this decision.
In explaining the decision, MillerCoors President Tom Long explained that Chicago was a more attractive location than either Milwaukee or Denver for the marketing talent that MillerCoors needs to be successful. He also sighted the importance of O'Hare International Airport, the world's second busiest airport which offers global air connections. Long said taxes were not a factor in MillerCoors decision!
The WMC and other free market extremists like Scott Walker who have reduced economic development strategy to a one note song of cutting taxes should take note. Access to skilled employees and a world class transportation infrastructure trumped lower cost real estate and taxes. Competitive advantage requires investing in the labor force and in the parks, amenities and communications and transportation systems that make an urban area attractive and functional.
As former Republican Secretary of Commerce and Alcoa CEO, Paul O'Neil told Congress when asked about the role tax cuts play in attracting investment:". ‘As a businessman I never made an investment decision based on the tax code. If you give money away I will take it, but good business people don’t do things because of inducements.”