Saturday, July 16, 2016

Fiat Chrysler's Belvidere plant gets $350M, 300 jobs to retool for Jeep Cherokee

By Adam Poulisse
Staff writer

By Brian Leaf
Staff writer

Posted Jul. 14, 2016 at 4:18 PM
Updated Jul 14, 2016 at 8:45 PM


BELVIDERE — A $350 million investment and 300 new jobs are coming to Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s plant here as the company retools for Jeep Cherokee production.
Fiat Chrysler made the announcement at 4 p.m. today.
The plant now produces Dodge Dart, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot models. Production of Darts will end in September, and Compass and Patriot production will cease in December.
Speculation that the Jeep Cherokee would move to Belvidere started last fall. Automotive News reported that Cherokee production would be phased out at a plant in Toledo, Ohio. In May, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said in Turin, Italy, that the hot-selling Cherokee would be made in Belvidere.
Fiat Chrysler is betting that gas prices remain low in coming years. So it is investing in trucks and SUV production instead of smaller vehicles. Last year 220,000 Jeep Cherokees were sold. Marchionne said in May that he chose Belvidere because he needed a plant that could produce 300,000 cars a year.
The announcement "sounds extremely significant," Boone County Administrator Ken Terrinoni said, and it's "most appreciated having that kind of investment in the community."
Fiat Chrysler says the 5 million-square-foot Belvidere plant employs 4,500 people.
Companies that supply parts and components for the Belvidere plant, clustered in commercial spaces in and around the plant, employ hundreds more. They operate in warehouses that schedule parts shipment to coincide with vehicle production.
The model change will mean a change in the supplier base and a scramble for real estate for inbound suppliers.
"There has been a lot of interest in Boone County and the Belvidere area from companies that normally supply Fiat Chrysler US," said Jarid Funderburg, executive director of Growth Dimensions, the economic development agency for Belvidere and Boone County.
"I think that is anticipated with any line change."
Funderburg said much of the real estate shopping has been done by site selectors hired by companies to find them property or buildings or both.
"If they can’t find a good home in Belvidere, I sure hope they find it as close as possible in Winnebago County," he said.
The auto assembly plant is a regional economic powerhouse.
Jimsi Kuborn, vice president of investor relations for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, said a government study found that for every 100 jobs created at the Belvidere plant, 46 additional second- and third-tier jobs are created. And every $1 million in output at the plant results in $322,000 output by other industries in the region
"It’s a great win for Belvidere and Boone County," said Kuborn, who noted 55 percent of plant employees live in Winnebago County.


- Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg said he's looking forward to what Chrysler's investment will bring to the county and region.

"Typically, all the (employees) don't reside in Belvidere or Boone County. We should get a significant portion of (them)," Walberg said. "It'll certainly add to our community. They'll be bringing paychecks home to spend in our community."

Above is from:

New interesting fact regarding GLB RR’s main railyard




SOAPBOX: 'A profit-making scheme at the expense of taxpayers and landowners'

  • Jason Kokos
  • Updated 13 hrs ago
  • 0

There is a looming threat to our county that many are unaware of. It would mean the destruction of the community of Sumner Township in Kankakee County.

Residents would be forced from their homes and their land. A church, two cemeteries, and 15,056 acres of farmland and homes would be taken, and we aren't even being told what that 15,056 acres would be used for.

The Great Lakes Basin Railroad is a private speculative project that has no proven need or benefit to Illinois. Frank Patton, GLB spokesman, Frank Patton says the group will take land through quick take eminent domain and they want more than 15,000 acres in Sumner Township.

The proposal to build a railway from Janesville, Wis., to LaPorte, Ind. is a profit-making scheme at the expense of taxpayers and landowners. Various Chicago rail groups say it is not needed.

Patton, the voice of the project, says the proposed rail line would take a nearly 5- by 4.5-mile rail yard but refuses to explain why the project would need that much land. Something is being kept secret, considering the largest railyard in this country is fewer than 3,000 acres. This would make GLB's railyard more than five times the size of the largest yard in all of North America.

What are they planning to put in Kankakee County? We cannot afford to let a private group of investors take a major part of our county and use it for their profit at our expense. This time it is Sumner Township, but the next private group of investors may choose your township for a scheme.

One thing is for certain — they have dollars in their eyes, not the best interest of our community.

More than 2,750 petition signatures of concerned citizens have been given to Kankakee County Board members and our state and federal representatives. They also have been provided with research regarding GLB and a copy of *Great Lakes Basin Rail: News and Views."

A second edition of News and Views is available and was published sharing GLB project information in

a newspaper format. The website also contains information as well as the "Kankakee County Block GLB" Facebook page.

The GLB is trying to rush this project through so it won't be scrutinized at the state and local levels. We must educate and protect ourselves and the people who represent us must work to educate themselves and stop this pillaging of private land.

Above is from:

GLB RR: The No-Build Proposition




Opponents would send railroad down the 'no-build' tracks

Residents in three states have issued a legal broadside against the proposed Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc. railroad as the federal agency overseeing train service closes its public comment period.

An attorney for Rock Against The Rail, a Wisconsin group, has summarized arguments that the 278-mile rail line would be an environmental and safety hazard providing little or no benefit to the Midwest’s transportation infrastructure.

John Bryant and Lisa Cosgrove, of Railed, the organized opponents in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties, said they support this final effort to stop Great Lakes. They said Great Lakes would divide local farms, create more dangerous train crossings and bring new risks of derailment and toxic chemical spills.

Frank Patton, founder and managing partner of Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc., said the 18-page “Motion for Adoption of No-Build Alternative” is another rehash of the same objections Northwest Indiana groups have made to the Surface Transportation Board during months of public meetings and written statements.

Patton said the “no build” alternative is the standard request made by rail line opponents. He said the Transportation Board also could grant Great Lakes’ application with a range of conditions that could make the project financially feasible.

The public comment period was scheduled to end Friday. The board already has received more than 3,500 comments. The newly filed motion lists 80 government agencies, schools, elected officials and citizen groups opposed to the project, including 24 in Indiana.

Cosgrove said the motion also wants Patton to file a construction application that would specify exactly where the rails would go across Northwest Indiana. “Even now he says it is subject to change. Our lives are just torn apart by this,” she said.

The Surface Transportation Board has asked Patton to provide, by Aug. 29, alternative routes and detailed explanations of why they would more or less reasonable than the one Great Lakes prefers.

Patton has proposed a private $8 billion train line that would loop from LaPorte, west to Milton, Wisconsin, to offer freight trains a route around congested lines around Chicago.

The rail line could result in the closure of some rural roads and eventually allow up to 110 trains daily.

The newly filed motion states the tracks would split 728 fields, many of them belonging to active farms that would have to cross the 200-foot-wide right of way with farm implements and livestock. The tracks also would create 200 new grade crossings.

It states rail carriers have expressed indifference to the proposed rail lines and that improvements to existing lines around Chicago will allow them to accommodate heavier traffic.

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