HUDSON — For the Semple family, bringing their business to Illinois made all the sense in the world.
The day Brandt Group of Companies President Shaun Semple announced the Canadian agriculture manufacturer had officially agreed to buy the Kongskilde plant near Hudson and bring 300 to 500 jobs to the area, his father and sons showed off their Land of Lincoln bona fides at a media event there.
"With our 25-year relationship with (Moline-based) John Deere ... Illinois has long been a regular destination for us, and it feels good to finally plant our flag alongside yours," said Brandt Chairman Gavin Semple, Shaun's father.
For two of his grandsons, the connections are even more personal: Christopher Semple graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, where he met his wife, Lisa, and Matthew Semple graduated from DePaul University in Chicago.
All three now work for Brandt and attended Friday's event, where state and local officials thanked the company for making Illinois its U.S. base despite competing bids from Iowa and Ohio.
"We already have a strong foundation in the Midwest, a large network of loyal dealers who serve many hundreds of farmers that depend on manufacturers like Brandt for their livelihood," said Shaun Semple, "so it's only fitting that we give back to the region that has played a key role in our success, bring jobs and spin off revenues to the Midwest."
Gov. Bruce Rauner announced the company will be forgiven $1.1 million in future state income taxes as part of Illinois' EDGE credit program.
"I was very impressed," said Rauner, who offered the Semples an Illinois flag, of the company. "They are dedicated to quality. They are dedicated to their employees. They are dedicated to a long-term commitment to excellence. They are regarded as one of the best-run companies anywhere in Canada."
The company also will be forgiven at least $630,000 in property taxes after receiving abatements from McLean County Unit 5, McLean County, Normal Township and other taxing bodies that approved a tax abatement plan.
"Yes, do we give, but also so does Brandt. Ten years down the road, I think that giving will be exponential in the fruit," said Unit 5 Superintendent Mark Daniel.
Kyle Ham, president of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, thanked Rauner for returning to McLean County — he visited in March to welcome Rivian Automotive that received similar state and local tax benefits to buy the former Mitsubishi Motors North America plant in Normal — and said he hopes to ask Rauner to welcome another manufacturer soon.
"The work doesn't end today. Everyone you see in this room represents a business, they represent a bank, they represent the community and labor —the list goes on and on. We're here to support you," said Ham to Brandt. "You're part of the McLean County family now, and we stand ready to make sure that your success is our success."
Brandt plans to close on the plant Dec. 15 and begin manufacturing there early next year. The company is required to hit benchmarks, including 50 local employees next year and 300 in 2024 to receive property tax abatements.
To that end, Gavin introduced Hans Rasmussen, the soon-to-be former president of Kongskilde Industries North America, as Brandt's first Illinois employee. Shaun Semple said Rasmussen, who helped design the plant, will be instrumental in Brandt's operations there.
He encouraged local workers to visit brandt.ca/careers/job-opportunities and help staff the factory.
"I was very impressed by the skills and talents of the people in this region, especially in manufacturing," he said. "If you're looking to be part of a privately-owned family company that is pursuing an aspirational goal of doing $5 billion in annual revenue by 2025, come join us. We're going to need you."