Rauner apologizes for Champaign-Urbana comments
Gov. Bruce Rauner apologized on July 3 for previous comments he made regarding Champaign-Urbana.
Rauner said he didn't choose his words well and while his recent visit to the cities didn't make up for it, he wanted to apologize for the comments.
"I was talking very inartfully about the challenges smaller communities have as relative to large," Rauner said. "Small (communities) have great advantages and we need to accelerate those advantages."
Rauner said that one of the greatest advantages in the world for any community where the University of Illinois is is intellectual capital and talent.
"Our No. 1 export from Champaign-Urbana is talent," Rauner said. "We want to keep as much in Champaign-Urbana as we can."
Rauner said Illinois needs to make sure that the talent that Champaign-Urbana is exporting goes to other Illinois communities, not outside the state.
"Exports are fine if they're in Illinois," Rauner said. "That's what we need to work on."
Rauner and Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin spent July 3 visiting several companies in the area that were great employers for Champaign-Urbana.
"At some point in every company's life, you're a startup and to have an environment that fosters that innovation and supports those companies through decades is a real testament to our community and the systems we have in place here," Marlin said during a press conference following their tour.
Rauner's previous comments were made on June 22 during a WGN radio interview. Rauner had said that Champaign-Urbana was wonderful, but that it didn't have convenient transportation or much of a workforce.
Rauner also said that while the University of Illinois had graduates that run some of the greatest companies in the world, none of them are in Illinois. He said UI grads are taking their companies to Silicon Valley.
The mayors of Champaign and Urbana, along with several Champaign County business leaders, issued a statement the day after the interview, saying that the county has been a "shining star of economic growth" in Illinois for several years.
The statement noted that the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was one of the top research institutions in the world.
Champaign County also has a low unemployment rate of 3.5 percent and has added 2,589 jobs over the last five years, according to the statement.
The county is also consistently ranked as bike- and family-friendly and has a diverse community, according to the statement.
"We ask that Governor Rauner join us in our success and support the continued economic growth of Champaign County," the statement reads.
Will Allison, Rauner's campaign spokesman, said in a statement that Rauner was committed to growing the University of Illinois, and apologized and clarified his remarks from the June 22 radio interview.
In the statement, the governor clarified his "firm belief that Champaign-Urbana is doing an outstanding job in economic development by utilizing and promoting its many attributes."