ADM Officials Scout Twin Cities for New HQ: Report

Gov. Pat Quinn last week said no company would get a tax break before legislators fix state's pension mess

Officials from Archer Daniels Midland continue shopping for a new city to call home, and they were reportedly in the Twin Cities on Monday.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, citing a source, reported the meeting between ADM and representatives from GreaterMSP, an economic development partnership, took place in St. Paul.

ADM officials last month announced plans to move out of Decatur, where the grain giant has been based for more than four decades, to a larger city with a greater talent pool and easier access to world-wide travel.

The company isn't publicly saying what locations are being considered, but Chicago officials have said the city is in the running. About 200 ADM employees already work in Chicago. Published reports also mention Minneapolis-St. Paul, Houston, Indianapolis and St. Louis.

But Chicago's chances of landing the headquarters, which would be the city's biggest get since Boeing relocated in 2001, may have been hurt last Friday when Gov. Pat Quinn said he would veto any bill that gives tax breaks to a company before legislators fix the state's pension mess.

"The best way to help jobs in Illinois is to do pension reform," Quinn said. "To distract legislators in any way from this issue of a lifetime is just plain wrong."

ADM asked lawmakers to approve legislation that would provide up to $24 million in tax breaks over 20 years to keep the headquarters in Illinois. The company also plans to add 100 new technology jobs at the new site in the next few years.

Quinn has criticized corporate tax "loopholes" in the past, saying in his most recent budget address that he wanted to end three tax breaks worth an estimated $454 million — legislation that went nowhere. But he also has supported some deals, including $100 million in incentives to prevent Sears and the corporation that runs the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade from leaving Illinois.

Illinois now has the nation's worst-funded public employee pension system, with an unfunded liability that grows by $5 million per day. Members of a legislative committee tackling the issue have said they're close to a deal, but also acknowledge it could unravel at any moment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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