Letter to County Board Re: Monsanto Enterprise Zone

Dan Kenney has sent the DeKalb County Board a more detailed version of last week’s letter to the editor:

August 17, 2009
DeKalb County Board members:
Please consider the information below before voting on the Monsanto request for the enterprise zone expansion. The citizens of DeKalb County are counting on a vote that will best serve all of the county residents now and in the future.

    1. One can find a huge amount of information about Monsanto’s troubled history. The 50 plus superfund sites that the EPA claims are related to Monsanto. Clean-ups paid for with tax payer money. The fact that they took over 500 jobs out of the county as well as over $1 million in property tax revenue. One must ask why we would want to help a company that has had such a devastating affect on our County. Historical facts prove that Monsanto is not a company that can be trusted.

    2. I agree with Mr. Todd that Monsanto’s presence is “crucial to Waterman” however we must ask is there a danger that Monsanto will leave if we say no to this deal? I asked Martha Smith of Monsanto this question. She assured me that Monsanto has no plans to leave Waterman. She said that they have an extensive operation there and have no plans of moving that location. Of course according to Rep. Pritchard, in the January 10th 2004 Daily Chronicle, Monsanto was “going to add a lot more people to the operation,” when Monsanto purchased DeKalb Genetics in 1998. But as he reported a change in management caused a change in their plans. So we have no guarantees that Monsanto will stay if we do the deal or if we don’t. (There is the fact that the new $90 million facility they are constructing in Independence Iowa for producing De Kalb Seed corn may present an opportunity for a change.) It is hard to believe they would abandon all they have in Waterman for a savings of $15,000 per year. But there are no guarantees coming from Monsanto, as an attempt to “build good will,” nor is the county asking for any commitment from the company.
    3. Monsanto claims they will save $25,000 a year on utility taxes. However they will be paying Mendota $10,000 per year so their net savings is $15,000 a year. Hard to understand from a company that does more than a billion of dollars worth of business a year. They reported a 117% earnings growth for the first quarter of 2009 alone. Even their CEO makes over $15 million a year, which means he makes over $45,000 per day. Do they really need to take $15,000 per year from our state to remain competitive?
    4. Keep in mind the only side presented to the board has been from Opportunity Alliance, which is hired and paid by Monsanto, and a Monsanto representative. Also the President and Vice President of Opportunity Alliance who spoke with the Economic Development Committee are former employees of the state of Illinois. Mr. McClure is the former Director and Assistant Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. Mr. Hamilton is the former Assistant Deputy Director of the Business of Operations at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. Now they are using their state and business contacts to enhance their own consulting firm. Both have a vested interest in doing what is best for their client not what is best for the citizens of our county. You also may want to ask Mr. McClure what he has against workers earning the prevailing wage for their work. Mr. McClure is speaking to the Illinois Enterprise Zone Association, at their annual conference September 11th on the topic of “Prevailing Wage Legislation.” The Illinois Enterprise Zone Association is working to defeat a bill in the Illinois House HB-063 and SB-043 which call for the expansion of the prevailing wage from the current public works arena to any project in an Illinois Enterprise Zone including private sector projects. What would our tax paying workers think of DeKalb County board agreeing to allow an enterprise zone into our County that does not want workers to earn a prevailing wage?
    5. “We hope the enterprise zone will bring more jobs to the county.” This is what one member of the Board told me. However the benefit of enterprise zones is very debatable. One can find studies for both sides, however the majority of the studies that have been conducted by academic institutions rather than business-related interest groups, point to the short comings of enterprise zones and other tax incentives. I will cite only two but will provide links to others. One source sited by the State of Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability for the Illinois General Assembly sited in their July 2009 report: “Illinois Tax Incentives.” The study referred to is entitled: “State Enterprise Zone Programs: Have They Worked?” Authored by Alan H. Peters and Peter S. Fisher, published by the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. They state in their conclusion:

The zone incentives offered tend to favor capital rather than labor and appear to constitute a chaotic and unplanned industrial policy. Furthermore, these incentives usually cause losses to the public purse. Although there is a lot of business turnover in enterprise zones, zone incentives have only a minimal impact on new investment.


…enterprise zone incentives do not appear to induce much employment. (Page 233.)

In addition, please consider “How Costly are Enterprise Zone Incentives?” The independent study of 13 states and 75 zones, including Illinois found, “The net effect in our 75-zone sample was a total state-local revenue loss of about $59,000 for every job induced by incentives.”

Other research for you to consider:



And the Illinois report:


See also: Wilder, Margaret, and Barry Rubin. 1996. “Rhetoric Versus Reality: A Review of Studies on State Enterprise Zone Programs.” Journal of American Planning Association (62) 4:473-491.

    6. Our County also needs to consider that the Mendota Enterprise manager told me that the only incentive for them to expand the zone is for the $10,000 per year they receive from Monsanto.

This deal does not serve the best interests of all the citizens of DeKalb County. When you weigh all of the factors it is clear that the only clear interest being served is the self-interest of Monsanto.

I urge you to vote no on this Monsanto proposal.

Thank You,
Dan Kenney
DeKalb District 8

The County Board meets to vote on this proposal at its regular meeting Wednesday, August 19, at 7:30 p.m.

Thanks for sharing your research with CityBarbs, Dan.