ROCHELLE – Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood have been invited to attend today's groundbreaking on an expansion of Nippon Sharyo Manufacturing, which was made possible through the extension of the Lee County Enterprise Zone.
Nippon Sharyo is building a 354,000-square-foot additional factory that is expected to employ more than 100 people and bring around $35 milllion to $45 million in investment.
The Dixon City Council did its part in December by voting in favor of expanding its enterprise zone to property on ProLogis Park near the Lee and Ogle counties border.
An enterprise zone is a statewide economic development tool utilized by select communities to persuade new or old business to expand there by cutting a portion or all of their property taxes, sales taxes on building materials or utility costs.
Also, the project is receiving state incentives.
Nippon Sharyo, a Japanese company, builds passenger rail cars.
In the new shop, major parts and components for the car body will be manufactured using U.S.-made raw materials, according to a news release from the Greater Rochelle Economic Development Corp.
"This new facility is going to generate good manufacturing type jobs, i.e. welding, machining, electrical, etc.," said Jason Anderson, the economic development corp's director. "The kind of jobs that have been leaving the Rock River Valley for more than a decade."
This is the fifth time the enterprise zone has been extended into Ogle County, said John Thompson, president of Lee County Industrial Development Association. The zone has been extended to annex Union-Pacific Global III Intermodal Terminal, Illinois River Energy, Coated Sand Solutions and previous Nippon Sharyo projects.
Anderson said past data has shown 75 percent of the workforce within the ProLogis Industrial Park is from outside of Rochelle, with about 25 percent hailing from Dixon, Sterling and Rock Falls. Dixon is about a 30-minute drive from Rochelle.
Lee County's enterprise zone will be left with about 213 acres out of the 15 square miles of zoning it had at its disposal, but Thompson said that should not prevent any future businesses from moving to the area.
Since 2009, the Lee County Enterprise Zone has helped create 135 jobs and retain 401 more, bringing more than $60 million in investment to the area, Thompson said.