CHICAGO — — On the heels of his trip to Japan, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has again taken credit for a reported boost in the state's job numbers: Roughly 80,000 more through foreign firms since the Chicago Democrat took office in 2009.
But economists and business leaders say it's not all Quinn's doing.
Quinn — who returns Tuesday from a conference with other Midwest governors and Japanese executives — has touted his travel as a way to boost Illinois' business climate. Last month he credited his yearly Christmas trip to visit wounded soldiers in Germany as the reason that Germany-based Rittal Corp., will move its U.S. headquarters from Ohio to Illinois.
While his efforts get a nod from experts, they say there are a number of other reasons Illinois is seeing the increase. For one, Illinois is already an attractive international business hub. Nearly 20 percent of the state gross product is international trade, according to the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.
Add to that its central location, bustling O'Hare International Airport and Chicago's heavy concentration of foreign national consulates.
"The international economy is a very important part of the Illinois economy. It's not surprising that there would be a lot of jobs created," said University of Illinois economist Fred Giertz. "These things happen automatically, it doesn't take a governor or a mayor to make it happen."
The new figures, released Sunday, come from a report through the credit report service for businesses, Dun & Bradstreet, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The figures cover 2009's end to earlier this year. Quinn took office in January 2009.
"Our efforts to increase foreign direct investment in Illinois are paying solid dividends," Quinn said in a statement. "These jobs have played a major role in fueling Illinois' economic recovery in recent years, and we must continue to build on these efforts in order to create jobs and compete in the global economy."