The founder of Jimmy John's said he has applied for Florida residency and may recommend that his corporate headquarters move out-of-state as a result of the Illinois tax increases enacted last week.I recall working in an office in 1981-82 in Charleston, Illinois while I was a student at Eastern Illinois University when a very young Liautaud fresh out of high school came in to visit a local realtor with whom the office I worked shared space in search of a location for his very first sub shop. He opened it up later that year and never stopped growing the business.
Jimmy John Liautaud told The News-Gazette on Tuesday that he is angry about the moves, which boosted the individual income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent and the corporate income tax from 7.3 percent to 9.5 percent.
"All they do is stick it to us," he said, adding that the Legislature and governor showed "a clear lack of understanding."
"I could absorb this and adapt, but it doesn't feel good in my soul to make it happen," Liautaud said.
Jimmy John's, which has its corporate headquarters on Fox Drive in Champaign, has more than 1,000 sandwich shops nationwide, many of them franchise operations.
Champaign has been its corporate base, but Liautaud said it will not necessarily continue that way.
Liautaud said he has been contacted by "multiple pro-business states" that made him feel "wanted and important."
"I enjoy being courted and the process," he said.
Once he collects information on alternative sites, he will present it to the company's board of directors and ask the board to decide.
As for himself, "my family and I are out of here," he said.
Liautaud said he has rented a house in south Florida and his children started school there last week. He said he has applied for Florida residency and plans to commute to Champaign.
He said he doesn't know yet whether he will put his home on West Armory Street on the market.
Jimmy John's employs 100 at the corporate office in Champaign and has 190 other employees who work elsewhere but come to Champaign every four weeks, Liautaud said.
Some people may not realize how many travel to Champaign-Urbana as a result of Jimmy John's being here – many of them for training.
Liautaud said his business accounts for "350 motel nights a week in Champaign, 1,400 motel nights a month."
"They eat at Cheddars," get automotive service at Sullivan-Parkhill and "drink at Carlos (Nieto's) bars," he said.
Liautaud also lashed out at union protesters who demonstrated against a "low-cost" contractor his company is using to build a Jimmy John's in Urbana. That restaurant will provide 30 jobs, he said.
He said he's sick of being "pummeled."
"I'm not sophisticated enough, smart enough or politically correct enough to absorb it all," he said.
Times must be pretty tough for Illinois' top economic development officer. Warren Ribley, the Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, got popped for driving under the influence in Springfield after he made an illegal right turn. In addition to the DUI, Ribley was ticketed for not having proof of insurance, improper lane usage, speeding and disregarding a traffic control device.
Hat tip to The Capitol Fax Blog.