Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to Commercial Real Estate Forecast attendees: You are a key to the state’s economy

Colliers International's David Kahnweiler and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner discuss the many issues facing Illinois.

Colliers International’s David Kahnweiler and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner discuss the many issues facing Illinois.

by Dan Rafter

What’s critically important to the economic health of Illinois? According to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, it’s you … and every other commercial real estate professional working in the state.

Rauner made this declaration during his one-on-one interview with Colliers International Chicago chairman and chief executive officer David Kahnweiler during the 14th annual Commercial Real Esate Forecast held this morning in Chicago

During the event, held by Illinois Real Estate Journal, Chicago Industrial Properties and Midwest Real Estate News, Rauner said that commercial real estate pros provide a consistent boost to the state’s economy, and should be celebrated for this.

“I want to thank all of you for being persistent believers in Illinois,” Rauner said while kicking off his talk with Kahnweiler. “How well you are doing is a barometer of how the state is doing. If you are doing well, the state is doing well and I’m doing my job well. If you are not doing well, then I am not doing my job. I want you all to be booming. That’s good for the state.”

Of course, not all all is well with the state of Illinois, something with which Rauner is acutely aware. He wasn’t shy about sharing his concerns with the conference’s attendees.

“Indiana is kicking our rear end,” Rauner said. “Indiana should be a cornfield if we are doing our jobs in Illinois.”

The state’s problems aren’t secrets, with the inability of state legislators to work out a budget deal attracting plenty of bad press. During his talk this morning, Rauner pointed to General Electric’s decision to not move its corporate headquarters to Chicago as an example of the issues that the state faces.

General Electric didn’t come because, as Rauner said, “it didn’t want to move to another failing state.” Too many financial issues meant that Chicago lost a major corporate tenant, Rauner said.

Rauner placed much of the blame on Michael Madigan, the long-time speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. Rauner said that while he personally likes Madigan — calling him smart, funny, hard-working and disciplined — he doesn’t like the way the speaker approaches government.

Government, and amassing power within it, has become Madigan’s business, Rauner told the crowd.

“He has created an unethical empire,” Rauner said. “He has become a multi-millionaire from government. He is all about power for power’s sake. He gets his money from that power. He thinks about the upcoming elections, not about good policy. That is just a fact.”

Rauner added that he will not cave in to Madigan’s demands, and that he is willing out outlast his political opponent.

“I have a job to do,” Rauner said. “No one will stand in the way of me doing it. Michael Madigan and I are mirror images. He is about politics and making money from power. I am about working for you.”

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