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Chrysler hiring 1,800 workers at Illinois factory

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* The surprise announcement by Chrysler yesterday that it was hiring more workers than expected at the Chrysler plant was some of the most positive news the Rockford area has had in many a year. The region has had an unemployment rate above 10 percent for 37 straight months.

During the height of the “Great Recession,” Chrysler just about went under. And even if it managed to survive, there was serious doubt whether the Belvidere plant would stay open. Gov. Pat Quinn stepped in with an incentives offer of about $5 million a year for ten years and the company pledged to invest $603.8 million and retain its 1,950 jobs at the Belvidere Assembly Plant.

Chrysler’s January sales were up 44 percent from January 2011. The automaker is coming back to life. And instead of the expected 1,600 new jobs, the company said yesterday it would hire 1,800 people by summertime

ChryslerGroup LLC said Thursday it plans to add 1,800 jobs at its Belvidere Assembly Plan to build the Dodge Dart this year.

“You are the new Chrysler,” CEO Sergio Marchionne told workers gathered at the plant.

Last week, Chrysler, controlled by Italy’s Fiat SpA, said it would add 400 to 500 workers to two existing shifts, but Thursday was the first time the company released the total employment number.

Chrysler said all 1,800 jobs will be new hires and will be permanent positions. Five hundred of the jobs are specifically for the Dodge Dart.

The company is also investing another $100 million into the factory on top of the $600 million it’s already spent.

* More

The Belvidere plant will manufacture the Dart car alongside the Jeep Compass and Patriot, at least for a while. The Jeep vehicles are being phased out at the plant, with future production of one or both most likely shipped to Chrysler’s Toledo, Ohio, facility, according to Krebs.

Executives did not disclose the timing of Jeep’s exit but said several new products are slated to join the Dart at the Belvidere plant, which has been retooled through a $700 million investment by Chrysler.

The Dart is the first Chrysler to be built on a Fiat-derived platform. The car, which is projected to get 40 miles per gallon and sell for about $16,000, is in pilot production — a testing phase, according to executives. Volume production is expected to ramp up this summer.

* Sometimes, luck pays off

“From our perspective, we were just fighting hard (in 2009) to maintain the facility and the current workforce coming out of the worst recession the auto industry had seen in decades. Never in our wildest expectations did we think we’d be here some 18 months later hearing an announcement such as this.”

— Warren Ribley, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity


* Related…

* U.S. unemployment rate falls to nearly three-year low

posted by Rich Miller
Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:02 am


  1. First, hooray for some good news. Now, we need an Illinois Policy Institute brief and Tribune editorial explaining how this demonstrates that Illinois has an anti-business climate and no one wants to locate or expand their businesses here.

    Comment by Willie Stark Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:08 am

  2. And the Department of Labor announced this morning the us added 243,000 jobs in January, almost 150,000 than expected. Quick call Cross and Radogno and schedule the presser to announce We Are Doomed, Doomed I Tell You.

    Comment by Give Me A Break Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:08 am

  3. did no one tell them about the tax hikes???

    Comment by bored now Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:20 am

  4. Take that, Indiana! Just kidding, but it’s encouraging to get 1,800 jobs, and to see jobs added again in January.

    I wrote yesterday that Chicago is getting a German company’s North American headquarters and 100 jobs. To me, the job number doesn’t stand out as much as what the company’s North American CEO said about opening the business in Illinois:

    “We’ve learned not to run where the incentives are or where there is the lowest tax rate,” Gessner said. “We need the overall picture.”

    Meaning education, transportation and infrastructure.

    Comment by Grandson of Man Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:21 am

  5. We should not lose sight of the fact that all of these jobs will be at the new lower wage of $15.85 an hour which is about half of the rate of the jobs that were lost or $30,000+ per year.

    Not exactly your fathers auto industry.

    Comment by Cassiopeia Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:25 am

  6. But it’s better than flipping burgers …

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:32 am

  7. Cass -

    Yeah, we also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that’s 1800 people who will no longer be on unemployment, eligible for Medicaid, or visiting local foodbanks so they can put food on the table for their families.

    Not too mention the increased psychological wellbeing that comes with being able to go to work everyday.

    Like I said yesterday, some folks will always insist on arguing that the glass is 5% empty — ironically, its those folks who are doing more to undermine our state’s economy than any public policy.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:36 am

  8. 1800 jobs? I thought the tax hike had companies falling all over themselves to get out of this oppressive state. In spite of all the criticism directed at him (much of it deserved), Quinn must be doing something right.

    Jeez, I can’t believe I just said that.

    Comment by TwoFeetThick Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:40 am

  9. I guess Chrysler didn’t get the GOP memo about how rotten our state’s business climate supposedly is. It’s a shame when one political party doesn’t tout our state’s strengths, but is almost exclusively critical.

    Comment by reformer Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:41 am

  10. It’s always nice to see the folks who actually build something, rather than just their clients’ portfolios, working with the government to invest in people. I hope history sees the folks like Terry Duffy for what they are, greed driven robber barons who saw a state income tax increase as a way to pad their bottom line.

    Comment by Small Town Liberal Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:45 am

  11. $15.85/hr is a living wage. Don’t knock it.

    You can buy Coupes, Sedans, SUVs, Buses, Semis, and Tractors, all largely designed and/or assembled by Illinois workers. But as far as I know, unless you are in the market for 70 ton mining truck, you have to go to Missouri to buy a pickup truck. I find that quite odd.

    Comment by JN Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:46 am

  12. This one is a good win for the Governor. Well done.

    Comment by soccermom Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:54 am

  13. Oh no JN, haven’t you heard?

    The glass is 5% empty.

    I also want to take my hat of to DCEO.

    One of the recommendations made by leaders of other successful states is that economic development agencies need to adopt a customer service relationship with current employers…engaging them meaningfully and regularly.

    Oh yeah, and stop negotiating with terrorists who try to hold our state’s economy hostage.

    Madigan, Cullerton and Quinn should deliver the message to employers and their associations and lobbyists that they want to try to work with anyone who wants to work together…and conversely anyone who attempts to bully them via press release is in for six more years, not weeks, of winter…because there are plenty of Chryslers out there.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 9:56 am

  14. Give Me a Break, don’t hold your breath on that Cross/Radogno presser — the news doesn’t quite fit the brand message that has made the Illinois GOP what it is today.

    But Treasurer Rutherford is tweeting that he’s calling Detroit to tell them what a crummy place Illinois is to do business. And Mitch Daniels is on Don and Roma announcing that Luke Skywalker is bringing a kajillion new jobs to Elkhart to build Millenium Falcons.

    My guess is a lot of the Usual Suspects will be conspicuously silent on this news.

    Comment by wordslinger Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 10:04 am

  15. That Chrysler plant is impressive and is certainly a vital cog to the U.S. 20 corridor. This is fantastic news. Those jobs pay much better than many factory jobs, offer great security and surely have decent fringe benefits. And from a right-to-work standpoint - for those who support right-to-work, at least - many non-UAW jobs do pay well and offer good benefits. The Toyota plant in Princeton, Indiana pays its assembly line workers well over $20 per hour. Please note that I am not comparing the two states but noting that even non-union jobs will contribute significantly to the state’s economy and Winnebago, Boone and McHenry Counties.

    Comment by Team Sleep Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 10:05 am

  16. That’s great news. Now, we need to build on the Belvidere news by pushing what very limited funding we do have into areas like Graphine wafer manufacturing and fabrication (See

    And “Additive Manufacturing” (a/k/a “3-D Printing).

    If we want to keep these jobs in place here in IL 5 years from now, well, we better get started and re-direct money away from dying companies like Sears Holdings into the future.

    Make book on it: Over the next 5 years, all those outsourced jobs that went to China and India are going to be put back into play. If we do it right, those jobs will come back to the USA. That’s opportunity there, but it’s not a sure thing for IL.

    Oh, and btw, the reason the unemployment #’s look so ‘good’ is because the numbers dropping out of the workforce are at the highs (1.2+ mil). That’s like celebrating a victory because we didn’t lose by as much as was expected.

    Belvidere’s jobs are a reason to celebrate - unemployment #’s - not so much.

    Comment by Judgment Day Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 10:09 am

  17. Actually, here’s one to celebrate:

    Ready-mix concrete company Ozinga Bros. is going ahead with building a new ($250 mil) cement plant on Chicago’s Southeast Side. Beat out Indiana. That’s a win.

    Comment by Judgment Day Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 10:13 am

  18. ===That’s like celebrating a victory because we didn’t lose by as much as was expected.===

    Employers went on a hiring spree in January and drove down the unemployment rate for a fifth straight month to 8.3 percent, its lowest point in nearly three years.

    The result pointed to a resurgent job market, and it sent stock futures surging. The Dow Jones industrial average futures, which were flat before the report, jumped 95 points.

    The economy created 243,000 net jobs in January, the most in nine months, and the unemployment rate fell two ticks.

    Read more:

    Comment by Rich Miller Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 10:16 am

  19. ===That’s like celebrating a victory because we didn’t lose by as much as was expected.===

    Also, I don’t think we’re going to wake up tomorrow and see an instant economic recovery. This is going to take time, and any good news is welcome.

    Comment by Grandson of Man Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 10:19 am

  20. And here’s another one to celebrate:

    ThyssenKrupp has chosen Chicago for its North American regional headquarters. Yes, it’s only around 100 jobs. But that’s a big win. Nice catch for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

    ThyssenKrupp is world class technology company (See Big Win.

    Comment by Judgment Day Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 10:19 am

  21. Re: Jobs and Unemployment.

    Guess it all depends what one is looking at. I tend to follow the financial players, and here’s an example of what they are saying.

    The Hedgies aren’t buying what the BLS is selling…

    Comment by Judgment Day Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 10:50 am

  22. Due to Illinois’ focus and successes in building exports, importing manufacturing jobs, and building our reputation overseas, business leaders from around the world are picking Illinois as a favored US location. We are competing globally, and Rahm, Pat, and DCEO all deserve credit.

    Poaching jobs from within the US with artificial financial support, which many other mayors and governors tout as success, is a losing proposition for our country overall, and not sustainable as an economic developement policy for a state.

    Hooray for Illinois, in Fiat’s choice for Chrysler.

    Hooray for Chicago, in ThyssenKrupp’s case.

    Comment by mark walker Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 11:02 am

  23. Wait. Didn’t I hear for months that Obama took over the auto industry in a “socialist coup”, and should have let them all go bankrupt?

    Meanwhile GM is once again the leading manufacturer, Ford is growing and very strong, Chrysler is back under new ownership, foregn auto companies are building more US plants, and smaller manufacturers around the US are coming back in support of that industry.

    Comment by mark walker Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 11:10 am

  24. ==Due to Illinois’ focus and successes in building exports, importing manufacturing jobs, and building our reputation overseas, business leaders from around the world are picking Illinois as a favored US location. We are competing globally, and Rahm, Pat, and DCEO all deserve credit.==

    If this is true, that’s great news. If Illinois can some day emerge more fiscally responsible but fair, while building on bipartisan cooperation, that can only help our business climate more. Our neighbors are tearing at each other right now. They seem like unstable places for business.

    Comment by Grandson of Man Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 11:45 am

  25. Hiring news is a good thing.

    However the question these jobs rests on whether the Fiat based car will be accepted by the marketplace. So far the Fiat 500 is not setting the world on fire. Hope the Dart does better.

    The drop in unemployment rates is as much from workers giving up their search for jobs as from newly employed. I’m chilling my bubbly, but not opening it yet.

    Comment by Plutocrat03 Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 12:46 pm

  26. I am happy for the folks there who will get the (short term at least) boost of jobs.

    Long term though, I’d be a tad wary of pinning my hopes on the success of Chrysler being rescued by Fiat.

    Comment by titan Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 1:09 pm

  27. Good news for Chrysler and Northern Illinois,and good luck to Sergio Marchionne the head of Fiat.
    I’m very happy the U.S. government helped us out.
    Better us than starting another war.I will drink to that tonight.America is making a come back!

    Comment by mokenavince Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 2:59 pm

  28. I hope I’m understanding this right: the position of some conservatives is that January’s unemployment drop and positive jobs report is misrepresented by the big one-month increase in Civilian Noninstitutional Population, compared with the Civilian Labor Force(BLS data).

    Are they saying that the increase in the ratio between population and workers is caused by discouraged job seekers dropping out of the job market? Can the ratio increase be partly explained by population increases in people who do not participate in the market, such as teenagers over age 16 who rely on others for support or retirees?

    Comment by Grandson of Man Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 3:23 pm

  29. I don’t know if I’m looking at this the right way, but I just compared Noninstitutional Population and Civilian Labor Force numbers for December 2011 and January 2012 (BLS data) and saw a raw net loss of 1.2 million jobs in January 2012.

    I guess the question I have is how many of those in the population increase are people who are of age and can’t find work.

    Comment by Grandson of Man Friday, Feb 3, 12 @ 3:38 pm

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