Ford Motor Co.’s two Chicago-area plants will receive a $1 billion investment as the car company seeks to boost its sports utility vehicle production.
Ford’s president of global operations, Joe Hinrichs, announced the investment at the Chicago Auto Show Thursday. He said the investment will include the overhauling of the two plants’ production facilities and will allow for the hiring of 500 additional workers, according to the Chicago Tribune. That puts Ford’s Chicago-area production workforce up to 5,800.
Ford’s plans for the plants — one in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the city’s Southeast Side, the other in south suburban Chicago Heights — represents a huge investment into the city’s industrial market, and could help breathe new life into the Southeast Side’s manufacturing and residential markets.
The Southeast Side has seen some stumbles in its redevelopment from its days as an industrial hub. The long-vacant U.S. Steel site in South Chicago will not be the sit of 20,000 new homes, after Ireland-based Emerald Living walked away from its ambitious plans for the area. In December, car-part maker ZF Chassis Systems announced it would close its Southeast Side facility after failing to secure a contract with Ford.
Buy there have been been some bright spots, including Northpoint Development’s plans to build a massive $169 million industrial complex near the Ford plant.
Ford’s Southeast Side plant has been in operation since 1924, when it began producing Model T cars, according to the Tribune. [Chicago Tribune] — Joe Ward