Says Costco and Trader Joe’s won’t come to Illinois until state leaders address workers compensation
O’FALLON – Mayor Gary Graham discussed some potential businesses looking to come to O’Fallon, including a Walmart Neighborhood Grocery store at the current location of Southview Plaza.
Graham did confirm that Walmart is speaking to the land owner. He indicated the deal with Walmart is not done and there are still negotiations being ironed out, including what the city would be asked to do.
“It’s not a done deal because of the owner in California. I think it would be a vast improvement up there. I think there are still some hurdles that need to be jumped. There are some real impediments that aren’t public within the negotiations between the owner and Walmart and whether the city will do some of the things they want. I won’t be making that decision now. I know what I would do. But I don’t know how it’ll work out in the next month or two. It’s really important that Southview be redone,” Graham said.
“With Southview, we missed the boat. Southview is not the center of town anymore. It was at one time and it would have been had it been redeveloped.”
Rumors have also swirled around the idea that Costco could be coming to the area. Graham did confirm that city officials met with Costco officials on Monday, but indicated that the business climate in Illinois are keeping Costco at bay.
“We did have a meeting with Costco, an unofficial meeting. They didn’t make a trip to O’Fallon. They were in St. Louis and we tagged them and we were able to get them over,” Graham said. “There will not be a Costco in Illinois until there is a change in the state. Until the workman compensation and property taxes are ironed out in the state of Illinois, you’re not going to get a Trader Joe’s, Costco, and one or two others that we want. It’s not going to happen now.”
Graham said he can’t blame Costco and other businesses for staying out of Illinois given the cost difference they face just due to state regulation.
“You can’t blame them. When you have a three or four million dollar difference in operating a store with a thirty mile span because they’re in different states with different laws, why would you come to Illinois? I know for a fact, through the Illinois Municipal League, that Costco has told the state of Illinois that they are not building anything,” he said.
Graham did seem hopeful that if and when Costco would decide to come to Illinois that O’Fallon would be in the running.
“With that said, I believe that if they ever come to Illinois and make a site selection, I believe we will be considered. There are criteria and we meet every one of the criteria. The only negative we have, in their eyes, is Sam’s, and that’s not really a