SPRINGFIELD  For the first time since the project surfaced in March, Gov. Pat Quinn and company officials said Illinois and Iowa aren't alone in their pursuit of a $1.1 billion fertilizer plant.

In comments to reporters in Urbana, Quinn said Cronus Chemical LLC still is considering its options when it comes to building the facility near Tuscola, Ill., even though Quinn has signed off on a multimillion-dollar package of state tax incentives.

"We still have a ways to go," Quinn said. "They have to make their decision."

He added, however, that the site near Tuscola and one in northern Iowa may not be the only places under consideration for a urea production facility by the Delaware-based company.

"There are other states that are competing with us, and we have to put our best foot forward," Quinn said.

Quinn did not say which other states are in the sweepstakes for the 2,000 construction jobs and 200 full-time jobs.

"Iowa is the major one," Quinn said.

Cronus consultant John Kinnamon confirmed other states could be in the running.

"Officially, it is still between Illinois and Iowa, but we have looked at sites in other states," Kinnamon said Monday. "We haven't decided to go in that direction yet."

Talk of a bidding war between Iowa and Illinois for the fertilizer plant began seven months ago when plans for the facility began emerging in Springfield as part of legislation designed to lure the company to Illinois with a package of tax breaks.

In Iowa, officials haven't offered details about any similar tax incentives for the company to build in Mitchell County, located on the Minnesota border.

On Monday, Iowa officials remained tight-lipped about the project.

"I can't comment on projects that we are or aren't working on. We haven't heard we are not in the running," said Tina Hoffman, spokeswoman for the Iowa Economic Development Authority. "But we have no proposals in front of the board."

In Illinois, Cronus has submitted an application for incentives to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, but officials are still crunching the numbers.

Neither Quinn nor Cronus offered a timeline for a siting decision.

"This will be a very large economic endeavor," Quinn said. "It would create a lot of jobs and also would help our manufacturing and our agriculture in Illinois."

(Mike Wiser of the Times Des Moines Bureau contributed to this story.)

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