BELVIDERE – Building on the major investment in the Chrysler Group’s Belvidere Assembly Plant expansion announced earlier this year that is bringing more than 1,000 new jobs to the region, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today continued to improve the forecast for the local manufacturing industry by announcing the awarding of approximately $6.6 million in Opportunity Returns support for three new Chrysler Group suppliers that will allow the companies to retool their facilities, train and expand their workforces and increase their competitiveness. The investments will help create more than 550 new jobs at the three manufacturers. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Lavin made the announcement in Belvidere with state, local and company officials.
“When we committed to investing with the Chrysler Group in revamping its Belvidere Assembly Plant to enhance its efficiency and productivity and remain one of the premier auto manufacturers in the world, we were also making a commitment to helping the entire local manufacturing industry excel in the 21st Century economy. Today, we take another major step in accomplishing that goal by helping three vital manufacturers expand their operations and increase their competitiveness. Moreover, these investments will bring more than 550 good jobs to the area and boost the economic vitality of the entire region,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
Android Industries, which is building a new facility in Belvidere, will receive nearly $2.5 million in state support and create 205 new jobs; Grupo Antolin, which is also building a new plant in Belvidere, will receive more than $1.3 million in support and create 150 new jobs; and Johnson Controls, a Sycamore-based manufacturer, will receive more than $2.8 million in Opportunity Returns support and create 202 new jobs and retain almost 140 jobs. In January, Gov. Blagojevich announced almost $36 million in Opportunity Returns support for the Chrysler Group to allow the company’s Belvidere Assembly Plant to undergo a major retooling that is adding a second shift and more than 1,000 new jobs for the regional economy.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will provide the support for the three manufacturers. DCEO will make available Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credits based on job creation over a ten-year period, funding through its Employer Training Investment Program to help train each company’s workforce, and additional financial benefits, such as sales tax exemptions and tax credits for job creation, resulting from the company’s location within an Enterprise Zone.
Android Industries, LLC, a third party supplier to the automotive OEMs, owns and operates eight businesses throughout the United States specializing in complex modular assembly and sequencing for the automotive industry. Android Industries - Belvidere LLC is investing approximately $10.5 million in capital equipment, production tooling, and building for its state-of-the-art engine assembly and dress facility. The design of Android’s facility and equipment will enable greater assembly flexibility, quality and productivity in preparation for start of production early in 2006.
“We view this opportunity with DaimlerChrysler as a major key to our overall power train assembly portfolio strategy,” said John Lucci, Android Industries Group Manager of New Business Launch-DaimlerChrysler Business Unit. “We are thankful for this opportunity and excited about helping to create 205 new manufacturing jobs in the Belvidere community. We appreciate the support of Gov. Blagojevich, which will help ensure that our Belvidere operation is competitive and that our employees will receive the training and resources required to ensure that this is a world-class facility and a world-class place to work.”
Grupo Antolin is a multinational company based in Burgos, Spain, employing more than 7,800 employees with operations in 18 countries. Grupo Antolin is a multinational leader in the design and manufacturing of overhead systems, door modules and seats. In North America, Grupo Antolin has six plants in Mexico, one in Canada and seven in the USA. Grupo Antolin’s new facility in Belvidere will be a state-of-the-art, 80,000 square foot operation that will employ 150 people and be dedicated to the assembly and sequencing of door trim modules for DaimlerChrysler. Grupo Antolin’s door trim module represents the highest level of integration and offers one of the most advanced technology in the market as the panel becomes the carrier of all the components: inside handle, window regulator, speaker, latch and wiring harness.
“Grupo Antolin is honored to become a partner with DaimlerChrysler and a new neighbor of the Belvidere business community. We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the significant support and assistance from Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Growth Dimensions,” Grupo Antolin Belvidere Plant Manager Pablo Ucar said.
The Johnson Controls Sycamore, Illinois seat manufacturing plant opened in 1987. The plant will be supplying seat systems to the Chrysler Group’s Belvidere, Illinois vehicle assembly plant, and will be adding approximately 200 new jobs. Johnson Controls is a global market leader in automotive systems and facility management and control. In the automotive market, it is a major supplier of integrated seating and interior systems, and batteries. For non-residential facilities, Johnson Controls provides control systems and services, including comfort, energy and security management. Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI), founded in 1885, has headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“Johnson Controls is proud to be providing seat systems for a future Chrysler Group vehicle and are pleased to be adding new jobs to the Sycamore community,” said Brian Kesseler, Group Vice President and General Manager, North America, for the Automotive Group of Johnson Controls. “We appreciate the support we received from the state of Illinois.”
"This is an example of industrial growth that will help us become established as a regional city for the benefit of not only our local residents, but also for the benefit of the region as a whole. Industrial growth is part of the community's vision, and, once again, Growth Dimensions has demonstrated its value to the community as coordinator for industrial development," Belvidere Mayor Fred Brereton said.
“Gov. Blagojevich and I believe that our manufacturers can still compete and thrive in today’s global economy if we provide the right combination of resources and hands-on assistance they need to stay on the cutting-edge and in demand. Small and mid-sized businesses are still the lifeblood of this economy, and investments such as this one are so critical to strengthening the foundation of the manufacturing industry and keeping this regional economy healthy and vibrant,” Rockford Mayor Doug Scott said.
“One of the driving forces behind Opportunity Returns is the idea that local economies are interconnected. The major investment Gov. Blagojevich is making in the Belvidere Assembly Plant will help create new business opportunities for the Chrysler Group, but it will also generate many new business opportunities for a number of supplier companies. By providing this support, we are helping these three suppliers meet their new demand and reach new levels of growth in an ultra-competitive, global economy. This is why a regional approach to economic development is the most effective one to take,” DCEO Director Jack Lavin said.
Chrysler Group is investing approximately $419 million to overhaul the Belvidere plant’s body shop as well as modify the paint shop and final assembly area. All changes to the facility will enable greater manufacturing flexibility, while simultaneously preparing for future launches of as-yet-unannounced new products. Production is targeted to begin in early 2006.
Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges. Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses. It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs. Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.