Illinois Jeep plant shutters indefinitely, shedding 1,200 jobs
For the first time in 57 years, Belvidere doesn’t have workers finishing their shifts at the local auto plant. Jeep manufacturer Stellantis idled the plant indefinitely. It is one of the five biggest auto assembly plants in the world. In a city of 25,000, it’s a vital part of the local economy. The state has...
For the first time in 57 years, Belvidere doesn’t have workers finishing their shifts at the local auto plant.
The state has a role to play in reviving the plant, but taxes, regulations and workers’ compensation costs all present potential barriers.
Since 2017 Jeep Cherokees only came from the Belvidere plant, which produced 270,000 in 2018. Last year, Jeep Cherokee demand fell to just more than 40,000 vehicles sold.
Because local suppliers will also lose the plant’s business, the city of Belvidere and Boone County will lose 2,000 jobs in total if the plant doesn’t start back up.
Local businesses will also suffer. Patty Ibraimi, owner of Uncle John’s Family Restaurant, said plant workers were a big chunk of her family’s business.
“We all thrive on that huge plant,” Ibraimi said “They’re a big part of the community. We have a lot of people that work there. When they’re working, they’re eating, they’re going out. And for them to close completely, it’s devastation for the town and the businesses.”
Ibraimi’s brother is one of the plant employees losing his job after working there for 20 years.
Illinois is investing in electric vehicles, offering $400 million to incentivize electric vehicle manufacturing in Illinois.
Intersect Illinois, the state’s public-private economic development advocate, is fighting alongside county economic development groups to convince Stellantis to keep the plant. CEO Dan Seals says EV production is an option.
“I want them to be able to retool it and use it for EVs. Just having it sit there out of use, that’s the worst outcome from my perspective.”
General Motors transitioned one of its Detroit plants into electric vehicle production. Ibraimi and other residents can only hope Stellantis does the same.
Losing the Belvidere plant follows Illinois losing five large employers last year, with the state’s poor business climate blamed. Tyson Foods, Citadel, Boeing, Caterpillar and Highland Ventures announced moves to other states.
Caterpillar’s CEO a decade before the move had warned state leaders what they needed to do to keep businesses from leaving. Unbalanced budgets, workers’ compensation costs and taxes were his concerns, but those problems have only grown worse.
If state leaders don’t work to address Illinois’ regulatory climate and tax burden, which is the highest in the nation, companies will struggle to stay in Illinois. And it will be unlikely Illinois will see new growth.