Out-of-state stampede doesn’t mean moving very far


ILLINOIS — The lack of change often results in the lack of growth. It’s one main reason many state residents have chosen to leave the Land of Lincoln.

In fact, Illinois lost more citizens in 2015 than any other state. In some cases, those departing residents didn’t go very far.

Steve Miller, chief financial officer of Pioneer Oil Company, completes work comfortably behind his office desk in Vincennes, Indiana. Nearly a year ago, his outlook was different in two ways.

He was working in Illinois and the company wasn’t as profitable as it is now. It’s due to a fifteen minute trek across the Wabash River where Pioneer Oil used to stand in Lawrenceville, Illinois.

“The cost of doing business is greater in Illinois than it is in Indiana, so those are things that, if you can avoid them, it makes sense to avoid them.”

The lack of a balanced state budget and the 2011 hike in income taxes made Miller’s vision for business expansion a challenge.

“It is more difficult in Illinois to get the attention of government with the respect to positive outcomes and participating in it. The regulations, legislation, etc, in Illinois is more onerous on, not just our industry, but lots of industries.”

Pioneer Oil became one of the businesses to leave Illinois in 2015. Teaming up with Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Miller finds better connection opportunities with the community for the company; like a partnership with Purdue University.

“We find Indiana has a great economic stability as far as the state itself goes and its attitude toward business is excellent.”

Miller says, because of the move, he expects a better recruitment and retention rate for employees.

“There are just more opportunities for people to be connected with the community and to use the amenities that are here.”

Miller’s venture across the Wabash is one of many examples. In 2013, more than 6,000 Illinois residents left for Indiana, alone.

A U.S. Census Report found the state’s population shrank between 2014 – 2015 more than any other state, at a rate of one person every five minutes. During those years, they lost more than 105,000 citizens.

“Many Illinois residents didn’t plan on picking up and leaving home, but sometimes, all it takes is a change of scenery to hold a better outlook.”

Indiana State University graduate student, Brittany Bernard, is a Chicago native who planned to return home to start her internship in school psychology. Pursuing a paid internship, Bernard had to weigh some pros and cons.

“In Illinois, they pay their interns with that $10,000 and don’t give them anything else and, I don’t know anybody that can live off of $10,000 a year. However, in Indiana, most schools are offering anywhere between $20 – $30,000.”

Not to mention the additional training and conferences Illinois students face before landing an internship.

“Graduating from an Indiana school and then going on to an internship and a job placement in Indiana is a lot smoother. They don’t require as much, I guess, funds to get to the interviews, whereas Illinois, you have to pay to get to these conferences and these interviews and then you don’t get paid as much.”

Although, right now, home seems far away, Bernard has made some adjustments.

“Well, I got a cat, so that kind of makes it like home, like I have somebody to come home to. I’ve definitely made a lot of life-long friends, in undergrad and graduate school. Being in graduate school, you see the same group of people all day, every day, and so you kind of have to be friends or otherwise, it’s a terrible experience.”

According to the IRS Migration Data, Illinois experienced an especially heavy loss of residents during the first two years of the 2011 income tax hike.

The loss spans across all ages and income brackets, but the heaviest was from prime working-age people, 26 – 44.

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