Chrysler to add 1,800 Belvidere plant jobs

February 3, 2012 5:29:12 AM PST
Chrysler announced it will add a third shift at its Belvidere assembly plant, bringing hundreds of new jobs.

Gov. Pat Quinn joined top Chrysler managers and union leaders at the official announcement Thursday morning at the plant.

The plant will add as many as 1,800 jobs. Chrysler will add a third shift to make the new Dodge Dart. Others will be added to work on the Jeep Compass and another model.

"This is not the Dodge Dart of the 1960's and 1970's," Quinn said. "This is a 21st-century vehicle made by people here in Illinois, working together in the best traditions of our state. "

Chrysler earned close to $200 million last year, reversing a more than $600 million loss in 2010.

There is more news of a turnaround for Chrysler. About 26,000 union-represented workers in the United States will get $1,500-profit-sharing checks next month.

The automaker is celebrating its success here in Illinois. Chrysler's CEO joined Quinn Thursday morning to announce the third shift.

"We are here to celebrate the start of a significant new chapter," said Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler Group CEO. "We have grown to almost $700 million. It is now a reality."

Last year, Ford Motor company added a third shift -- 1,200 workers -- at its South Side Chicago plant. And in downstate Normal, Mitsubishi announced plans to build its new line of electric cars.

Quinn, whose state government is billions of dollars in deficit, is using this week to focus on better economic news where he can find it.

"Just in the last two years, we've created 20,000 new manufacturing jobs right here in Illinois," he said.

"It's all part of one story line and one strategic focus: how to create jobs and economic opportunity," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Emanuel made his latest jobs announcement Thursday morning, telling reporters that during the summer the German ThyssenKrupp company, which builds elevators and escalators among other things, would locate its North American headquarters in Chicago.

The mayor, who is made over 20 job announcements since last spring, downplayed the fact that ThyssenKrupp would transfer only 100 jobs to Chicago.

"My own view is there's that, but then there's also the other services that they'll be using from other companies here in Chicago so there will be economic growth and economic activity that comes out of it," he said.

Chrysler is accepting applications for the jobs and hope to begin training by the end of February.