Ford set to invest $1.1B in Chicago-area plants

Ford set to invest $1.1B in Chicago-area plants

While thousands of Chicago-area Ford employees rejoice over news of long-term stability, many more Illinois manufacturing workers face joblessness.

Ford Motor Co. will invest $1.1 billion in two Chicago-area facilities pending contract approval by United Auto Workers union members, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. The investment is part of a larger, $9 billion package Ford is proposing for its U.S. plants as the motor company rolls through a record-setting year.

Ford’s larger plant on the Far South Side employs 4,400 hourly workers. Its stamping factory in Chicago Heights employs 1,300 people. The Times of Northwest Indiana reported Ford plans to hire 200 more workers at the larger plant.

Whether Ford plans to expand its operations at the smaller plant and hire more workers or is simply paying for upkeep of the facility remains unclear.

Illinois desperately needs the former.

While Ford’s long-term investment is good news, it comes amid a dismal year for blue-collar workers in Illinois. The state has lost 12,500 manufacturing jobs in 2015 alone, and is the only Great Lakes state to lose manufacturing jobs over the last three years.

The motor company’s confidence is all too rare for Illinois manufacturers who have seen work flatten or fall while peers in neighboring states succeed.

Unlike Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio have all created manufacturing jobs in 2015.

For manufacturers who aren’t experiencing Ford-like profits, the state’s basic policy missteps must be corrected for them start to thinking about moving to the Land of Lincoln, or expanding within it.

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