Foster stresses need to bring jobs, federal money back to area
Newly sworn-in U.S. Rep. Bill Foster sees several problems facing the Fox Valley — a loss of manufacturing jobs, cuts in federal research money and Illinois’ dwindling share of revenue from the federal government.
Speaking at the Naperville Chamber of Commerce’s legislative luncheon Monday at the Hotel Arista, Foster characterized Illinois as a “donor state,” and said, “That’s not OK with me.”
Foster defeated Republican Rep. Judy Biggert in November in the election for the newly created 11th Congressional District, which includes parts of Aurora, Naperville, Plainfield and Joliet.
He previously served as congressman from the 14th District, which at the time included Aurora and much of Kane and Kendall counties.
The Naperville resident noted his 22 years working at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia and also his family-run business, Electronic Theatre Controls, which he said give him an appreciation of high-tech and business issues.
“We’ve kept all of our manufacturing in the Midwest,” he said. “That’s something I’m particularly proud of.”
Foster’s concern about the high-tech Interstate 88 corridor is twofold.
First, he worries that the 30 percent proposed cut in research money by Republican U.S. House leadership would adversely affect the area, given the number of science-oriented facilities. Second, he’s concerned that many of the jobs created from research work in the corridor will continue to be outsourced to other nations.
“A lot of that manufacturing has moved offshore,” he said.
Foster advised being realistic about outsourcing, stressing that not all of the manufacturing jobs lost over the years could be recovered for American workers.
As for the state’s share of revenue, Foster said that out of every dollar sent to Washington by Illinois, the state only gets back about 75 cents. He said he wants to use his position in the House Financial Services Committee to remedy that shortfall, particularly in the area of spending for infrastructure and transportation.
Foster told the Chamber members that firms often relocated and they should contact his office as early as possible for help in bringing jobs to the Naperville area.
“Sometimes a call from a congressman may make a difference,” he said.