COLONA — Visiting a recently expanded Colona trucking company Thursday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said the business was an example of the kind of economic development the state needs to fix its financial troubles.
A day after delivering his State of the State Address, Quinn visited three Illinois businesses, including Tennant Truck Lines in Colona, which opened a $3.4 million, 17,500-square-foot facility in November.
The company has expanded from 141 employees to 208 and plans to hire 40 to 45 new employees, mostly truck drivers, in the next year, said Todd Stoner, the company’s vice president and chief financial officer.
Quinn said while the state still faces financial challenges, such as a pension system that is “squeezing” money out of the state that could be spent elsewhere, the best solution to the problem is economic growth.
“I wanted to come today because this is a job-creation company,” Quinn said.
Stoner said the company made use of several government programs in relocating its business headquarters from a cramped farmhouse in Orion, Ill., to the new facility in Colona.
The programs included $1.1 million in tax credits the company will receive from the state Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE, program, the Henry County Rural Revolving Loan Fund and a tax-increment financing, or TIF, district approved by the city of Colona.
“Without these programs, we would not be standing here today,” Stoner said.
Quinn also praised the company’s commitment to remaining in Henry County, where the family-owned business began in 1946.
Quinn called businesses such as Tennant Truck Lines, “the heart and soul of our economy.”
“We want to make small business mean big business in Illinois,” he said.
Quinn said the best way for the state to battle poverty and crime is to help businesses create more jobs.
“If you’re able-bodied and you’re breathing, we want you working in Illinois,” Quinn said.
Adam Pollet, the acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said transportation companies such as Tennant also play a key role in the success of the businesses that depend on them to transport goods.
Rep. Donald Moffitt, R-Galesburg, praised Quinn’s leadership on improving the state’s infrastructure system.
Stoner said Tennant and other similar companies would benefit from more improvements in the state’s transportation infrastructure, particularly the replacement of the Interstate 74 bridge between Illinois and Iowa. Work on the bridge span is expected to begin in 2018. The total cost of the bridge-related projects has been estimated at more than $1 billion.