Belvidere officials doing what they can to work with Chrysler and its suppliers
BELVIDERE — The city plans to spend about $350,000 to ready Tripp Road for a new Chrysler supplier that could employ 460.
Aldermen on Monday voted 7-0 to split the $700,000 cost to widen the rural roadway where a 220,000-square-foot facility for Magna International Inc. is being built.
Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain says it's a worthwhile investment for the city because Magna will pour $32 million — $14 million from construction and $18 million on new equipment — into the new facility at Sager Corporate Park, an industrial park within five miles of Chrysler's plant, 3000 W. Chrysler Drive.
City officials are doing whatever they can to make Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and its Jeep Cherokee suppliers feel at home. They have been issuing permits and seeking grants for developers moving earth for suppliers near Chrysler’s Jeep Cherokee production.
Jeep Cherokees could roll out of the Chrysler complex in 2017, and the city is preparing to welcome two suppliers — Magna and Yanfeng Automotive Interiors.
They have large facilities under construction for 2017 operations that would coincide with Chrysler's Jeep Cherokee production.
“We proved to be a good group to work with here in the city of Belvidere,” Chamberlain said.
Magna spokeswoman Tracy Fuerst would not confirm what will be made at the plant. But the company is known to supply Chrysler's Jeep Grand Cherokee with camera systems.
Belvidere Public Works Director Brent Anderson said Tripp Road will be widened and repaved to handle Magna's truck traffic. There also will be installation of a turn lane, new storm and sewer lines and curbs and gutters.
The city has applied for a $350,000 state economic development grant to reimburse Becknell Industrial, the Lyons-based company and developer behind the building Magna will lease. If it doesn't receive the grant, the city and Becknell still will split the cost. The city would recapture some of the money from future entities developing the east side of Tripp Road.
“The reality of it is economic development and creation of jobs are the fastest way out of the doldrums,” Chamberlain said. “You don’t get something for nothing in this world.”
Alderman Ronald Brooks voted in favor of the Tripp Road agreement.
“They’ve got to work together,” he said of the city, developers and suppliers. “Or else jobs go elsewhere.”
Becknell Industrial officially began construction on the Magna facility in October. Vice President Paul Thurston said construction should be complete by the summer.
“I wish every community was as good to work with as Belvidere,” he said. “It’s a breath of fresh air.”
The LandMark Group of Rockford has been building Yanfeng's 336,000-square-foot facility at the end of Logistics Drive since July. The world’s largest supplier of automotive interior components is expected to employ approximately 400 at the $28.1 million building in a new industrial park.
“The building department was very helpful with permitting,” said Dan Ericson, a partner at The LandMark Group.
Belvidere Building Director Lesa Morelock said her department has granted several permits for Chrysler-related projects in recent months.
“We’re very excited to have them come to our community,” she said. “We’re definitely going to help them as much as we can but not (treat them) any different than anyone else.”