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The Weekend Desk Report

By Steve Rhodes / Posted on September 25, 2016

"ConAgra Foods wanted to move its headquarters to Chicago so badly that the company took a pass on an estimated $28.5 million in incentives Nebraska would have offered to keep it in Omaha," the Omaha World-Herald reports.

"Instead the company accepted Illinois tax credits that are expected to amount to less than half of what Nebraska would have offered.

"The disparity in potential tax breaks supports the assertion of ConAgra Chief Executive Sean Connolly that business incentives did not play a big role in the decision to shutter its Omaha headquarters."

Me, October 1, 2015: "New ConAgra CEO Sean Connolly lives in Winnetka, according to the Tribune. So, yeah, this move was really about shortening his commute."

And just 10 days ago, upon the announcement that Duracell was moving its executive suite here: "I sense a trend of HQs moving here because CEOs who already live here don't want to move to where their companies are actually already located. True? Assignment Desk, activate!"

Not that Chicago doesn't have a lot to offer companies, but it's not like they're moving distribution facilities here because of our geography or moving manufacturing plants here because of our workforce.


Back to the World-Herald, which seems to have discovered that noted private sector expert Bruce Rauner got played.

When announcing the Chicago move in October 2015, Connolly said, 'The decision to move headquarters was solely based on the strategic needs of our business and was not a city-versus-city exercise.'

But documents newly obtained by The World-Herald also show that ConAgra officials told the Illinois state government a different story in the months prior to its announcement.

ConAgra told Illinois officials that tax incentives were needed to justify moving its offices to Chicago. Illinois officials must have been convinced. They found a way around a statewide moratorium on incentives the governor had recently imposed because of a budget crisis in Illinois.

Good job, Rauny!


"ConAgra's request of Illinois came amid a state budget crisis so severe that organizations serving the poor didn't receive state money and scaled back services, state museums closed, school administrators worried they'd have to close their doors and the state lottery suspended payments to prizewinners. In the wake of the tough times, the governor froze economic incentives used to recruit and retain businesses."

Ouch. But wait for it:

An Illinois spokeswoman last year told news media in Chicago that the state's offer to ConAgra came before the incentives program was suspended. But documents obtained by The World-Herald show a different timeline.

ConAgra bypassed the moratorium by tacking its headquarters request onto an application it had submitted a few weeks before the freeze. That application for incentives was for an unrelated expansion at a northern Illinois cookie factory it owned, according to documents from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, requested by The World-Herald under public records law.

ConAgra's real estate consultant, Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle, was aware of the freeze on incentives and boasted that it found a way around it.

Nominating itself for an industry award, the real estate firm wrote: "JLL negotiated an innovative tax incentive award for the deal - a major accomplishment since the state had put a temporary, highly publicized hold on Illinois incentives programs - that was critical to Conagra's Board decision to move to Chicago."

Also, I want to know who this spokeswoman is:

"A spokeswoman for the State of Illinois told The World-Herald this month that the state approved ConAgra's incentives because it considered the headquarters request part of the cookie plant project. 'The scope of the project changed,' she said."

So they're making cookies at HQ now, too?


"A spokeswoman for Illinois Gov. Rauner didn't respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Jim Schultz, who at the time led Illinois' Department of Commerce - which administers the tax credits - said
 Schultz was not available for comment. Today Schultz leads a new, privatized economic development organization created by Rauner."

Nicely played, governor.


Beachwood Photo Booth: Ashland & Pawn
Enlarge. Then click again. (Pro tip)

Study: Policy Issues Nearly Absent In Presidential Campaign Coverage
Although, to be fair, one candidate doesn't seem to have policies, just odd and offensive proclamations.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Quilt, Death Valley Girls, Sleater-Kinney, Tamaryn, Fucked Up, Frank Iero & the Patience, The Wans, Deftones, The Julie Ruin, Chook Race, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, Billy Talent, Rob Zombie, All Dogs, Bleached, Rodriguez, Anthrax, Stabbing Westward, The Bronx, Off With Their Heads, Alice Cooper, Underoath, Bad Religion, Andrew W.K., Black Foxxes, Buzzcocks, Brian Fallon and Ryan Bingham, Damian Marley, Dee Snider, Leftover Crack, Thursday, Death Grips, Draco Rosa, The Growlers, Juliette and the Licks, The Falcon, Tiger Jaw, Swingin' Utters, A Will Away, The Wonder Years, Joey Badass, Jake Bugg, Glen Hansard, Hard Girls, Chevy Metal, The Mekons, The Handsome Family, Rowe/Tramposh, Citizen, People Under The Stairs, GZA, Method Man and Redman, Fu Manchu, Bob Mould, Julian Marley, High Waisted, Death Cab for Cutie, GWAR, Brand New, The Hives, The Hold Steady, Basement, Turnover, NOFX, Big D and The Kids Table, Refused, The Vandals, Social Distortion, Descendents, 3Teeth, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Summer Cannibals, Neck Deep, Pierce The Veil, All Time Low, Glassjaw, The Matador, Muvves, A Lion's Game, Alleyes Manifest, Mu Vonz, and Hemlocks.


From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

TrackNotes: Road To Breeders'
Our very own Tom Chambers lays out the whistlestop tour, with an update on Saturday's action.

Fantasy Fix: Early Elimination
Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to take a WR in the first round . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #120: Bears Narratives Have Exhausted Themselves
Franchise's greatest quarterback also its greatest millstone.

Plus: Bill Freakin' Belichick, Jesus Christ, Really?; What We Have Here Is A Failure To Develop A Quarterback; Cubs Play Cards Right; Derrick Rose Doesn't Understand Consent Or Manhood; Abreu And Frazier Put Up Huge Meaningless Numbers; The Blackhawks Are (Almost) Back; Delle Donne's Got A Thumb Too; Chicago Fire Lost In Time; and Lovie, Wesleyan And Duke.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Trumpeter Herb Alpert has had a remarkable, multifaceted career. In addition to scoring his own hits with the Tijuana Brass in the '60s, he cofounded A&M Records, signing a diverse roster of artists ranging from The Carpenters to Janet Jackson. Herb Alpert joins Jim and Greg for a conversation. Plus, a review of the new album from legendary band Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds."


Weekend BeachBook


Weekend TweetWood

Who didn't do anything wrong, btw.


Actually, they seem to have learned their lessons quite well.









The Weekend Desk Tronc Line: Fake it 'til you make it in the land of fakers.


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - The BBC's Bake-Off Bollocks.
POLITICS - Study: Presidential Campaign Coverage Sucks.
SPORTS - Bears Narratives Have Exhausted Themselves.

BOOKS - Meet Chicago's Newest Vampire.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Ashland & Pawn.

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