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Northwest Indiana: ‘Right-to-work zone’
Illinois’ leaders need to accept that right-to-work laws won’t go away and that Illinois is surrounded by right-to-work states—a losing prospect for large new manufacturing plants. Illinois won’t become a right-to-work state, and I’m not arguing it should.
There is, however, opportunity for manufacturing plants that demand right-to-work that otherwise would never consider Illinois to be located close Chicago. Chicago is the only global city in America with its own “right-to-work zone,” and it’s called northwest Indiana. World Business Chicago and city officials should work with the municipalities of northwest Indiana to lure plants. There’s a reason Foxconn is locating right above the state line, and it’s Chicago. The same can be said for potential sites in Indiana.
Because we have shortsighted views of the city and the metropolitan area, we forget northwest Indiana is part of Chicago suburbs. A transit line runs from Millennium Park through northwest Indiana, and Gary is closer to Chicago than Naperville. Above all, Gary is only 10 miles from the heart of the South Side. New manufacturing plants in northwest Indiana would be a short commute for blue-collar Chicagoans to jobs that would otherwise never exist in the city. Chicago has demonstrated a willingness to work with Gary through the Department of Aviation and Gary/Chicago Airport. The same collaboration should happen for manufacturing employers that require right-to-work.
Moein Khawaja, Chicago
Written October 21st, 2017