A word of advice for Gov. Bruce Rauner: You may want to avoid disparaging Champaign-Urbana when you’re talking tech.
The governor apologized to Champaign County business and civic leaders Tuesday for comments he made about the home of the state’s flagship research university during a Chicago radio interview last week.
Rauner’s assertion that Champaign-Urbana has “no convenient transportation” and “not much of a workforce” to retain top technology firms touched a nerve in this tech-heavy community, prompting a backlash on social media and even from members of his own party.
The governor met with about two dozen members of the Champaign County First delegation Tuesday evening and apologized during the group’s annual lobbying visit to Washington, D.C. Rauner is also in Washington this week.
Rauner told the delegation that his words were taken out of context and that “he is committed to growing the economy in Champaign-Urbana,” said Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen. He told them what he meant to say was that “it’s a challenge for all small and mid-sized communities to attract and retain employees,” but he shouldn’t have used Champaign-Urbana as the example, Feinen said.
“Governor Rauner apologized for and clarified his recent remarks about the disadvantages small communities face in competing with large, urban centers. And the governor clarified his firm belief that Champaign-Urbana is doing an outstanding job in economic development by utilizing and promoting its many attributes,” campaign spokesman Will Allison said in an email Tuesday night.
Rauner also promised to come to Champaign-Urbana to apologize to the community in person and celebrate its success as the state’s fastest-growing city, Feinen said.