Ford to bring 1,200 jobs to Chicago

January 26, 2010 6:57:50 PM PST
After several rounds of painful layoffs and the severe downturn in the auto industry, a Ford plant in Chicago is hiring once again. Ford plans to hire the workers later this year when it begins production of its new version of the Ford Explorer. But not all the 1,200 jobs at Torrence Avenue assembly plant will be filled with Chicago workers.

Some of the laid off workers from Michigan and Kentucky will reportedly be transferred into the positions. But the 1,200 jobs will be enough to staff a second shift when production on the Explorer starts.

"The all new Ford Explorer will begin production here in Chicago by the end of this year," said Mark Fields, Ford Executive V.P.

Ford executives put an end to the speculation and made it official. Production on the smaller, more fuel efficient Ford Explorer will bring 1,200 new jobs to the Torrence Avenue assembly plant and a nearby stamping plant. It was welcome news to people who used to work at the plant but had been laid off.

"Still trying to find a job but if they call us back, I'd be happy about it," said Lance Williams, former Ford employee.

The jobs are possible because of a new state tax credit for businesses that invest in Illinois.

Governor Pat Quinn was at the plant for the announcement touting the new jobs as he continues to make his case to voters ahead of next week's primary.

"The best way to help fight poverty and crime and keep families together. The best way to help the most people is a good job," said Gov. Quinn.

It will be the third new vehicle for the plant in recent months. Torrence Avenue has launched the new Taurus and the Lincoln MKS. Analysts say Ford as a whole has good traction in the tough economy and the president of U.A.W. Local 551 says hopefully the tough times will stay in the past.

"We have had a lot of ups and downs, we've been laid off two weeks out of the month and we went through this cycle for five years and then we got reduced down to one shift and laid off 800 workers. So this is a positive for us," Carlo Bishop, president of U.A.W. Local 551.

Businesses near the plant are also hoping it will bring them a steady stream of customers.

"Whatever the ebb and flow of the Ford plant is is the ebb and flow of all the businesses around," said Andrew Holevas, Chicago Pita Kitchen.

Ford says it will invest $400 million in the Torrence Avenue plant and the nearby stamping plant to make the new and improved Ford explorer.