State extends support to help businesses expand

BELVIDERE—Building on the major investment in the Chrysler Group’s Belvidere Assembly Plant expansion announced earlier this year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich recently announced the awarding of approximately $6.6 million in Opportunity Returns support for three new Chrysler Group suppliers. The money will allow the companies to retool their facilities, train and expand their work forces 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,” Blagojevich said. “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.”

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, 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 10-year period, funding through its Employer Training Investment Program to help train each company’s work force, 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 the start of production early in 2006.

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 technologies in the market as the panel becomes the carrier of all the components: inside handle, window regulator, speaker, latch and wiring harness.

The Johnson Controls Sycamore seat manufacturing plant opened in 1987. The plant will be supplying seat systems to the Chrysler Group’s Belvidere 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 nonresidential facilities, Johnson Controls provides control systems and services, including comfort, energy and security management.

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.

From the April 13-19, 2005, issue

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