Gourmet Sandwiches on the Go

Founder may take his free smells elsewhere

The founder of Jimmy John’s is moving out of the state freaky fast.

Ever since Illinois raised its individual income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent and the corporate income tax from 7.3 percent to 9.5 percent, people have been threatening to move out of the state.

Jimmy John Liautaud, the founder of the popular gourmet sandwich shop Jimmy John’s, has already packed his belongings and moved to Florida. He’s debating taking the next step, which is moving his company’s headquarters to the Sunshine State with him.

Audio: Jimmy John Explains Move

Jimmy John’s is based out of Champaign, where 100 people are employed and hundreds travel there to train for higher positions within the company. Even though he has grown to love Champaign, Liautaud says he can’t stay in Illinois any longer.

“I could absorb this and adapt, but it doesn’t feel good in my soul to make it happen,” Liautaud said.

Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday night defended the tax increase and said Illinois is actually the state with the most job growth.

"It's important that we pay our bills as the state of Illinois.  We're going to have a better state because of that," he said.

Before the income tax increase, Liautaud planned on expanding his offices and hiring more workers on the executive level, but those plans are long gone now.

He wishes that "the state could say they made a mistake" and "apologize."

Spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Marcelyn Love said that the corporate income tax will “help stabilize the budget, making Illinois more attractive to businesses.”

Even though Liautaud only sees the negatives of the increase, Love says that it’s a positive way to help out the business owners of Illinois.

"We’re taking the necessary steps to strengthen the economy, attract new investment and put people to work," she said.

Liautaud has said other states have "courted" him into moving his business elsewhere, but he neglects to name which ones. However, he has shown interest in nearby Indiana. He saw a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune telling Illinois companies to come to Indiana to "enjoy a much more stable, affordable and pro-growth economic environment."

Jimmy John’s started in Illinois, with its first location in Charleston in 1983 and the third shop in Champaign in 1987. Liataud’s parents also met in Champaign and he helps out the University of Illinois. He is upset to be leaving his home, but finds it to be the only alternative.

"I’m not a greedy American pig. I’m a hard working, bread-baking, meat-slicing delivery guy who happens to be immensely successful," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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