Durbin: Expansion of Chrysler Plant in Belvidere will Allow Company to Create or Retain Jobs

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today commended the decision by Chrysler Group LLC to invest $600 million in expanding the company’s Belvidere Assembly Plant in Northern Illinois. The expansion project will allow Chrysler to retain 1,950 jobs on two full shifts. The upgraded facilities would also support more than 500 contract employees and create the possibility of adding a third shift.


“Over the years the Belvidere plant has changed with the nation's auto market but its continuing strength has been the talent and productivity of its workers. Several months ago the CEO of Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, came to my Washington office to tell me Belvidere would play a big role in Chrysler's future,” said Durbin.


“Let me add that those who criticize President Obama's decision to step in and save GM and Chrysler from bankruptcy should acknowledge that our announcement of new jobs and a new future for Belvidere would never have happened without our government's willingness to fight to save essential American manufacturing jobs.”


Chrysler’s investment includes the construction of a 638,000 square-foot body shop as well as the installation of new machinery, tooling and material handling equipment. Work on the expansion began this summer and will be completed in 2011.


Durbin has advocated for expanding the Belvidere facility since Chrysler announced earlier this year its plans for the company’s operational expansion. On October 12, Durbin sent a letter to the Department of Energy in support of Chrysler’s application for funding to help finance facility, tooling, and equipment upgrades designed to raise production capabilities at the Belvidere, Illinois plant. On July 6, in a letter to Belvidere Mayor Fred Brereton and Belvidere City Council, Durbin pledged to do whatever he could to help finalize plans for a possible expansion and commended the local leaders for their efforts to help grow Chrysler’s operations at the Belvidere Assembly Plant.


Durbin met with the CEO of Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, in Washington, D.C. on May 13, 2010 to discuss the progress Chrysler has made and the company’s plan for the future. Last year, Chrysler’s Belvedere plant had substantially scaled back production and laid off hundreds of employees when, in September, the company announced that due to a dramatic increase in demand for fuel-efficient vehicles – spurred in part by President Obama’s Cash for Clunkers program – they would be hiring 850 old and new employees.