In 2004, according to figures released Thursday by the Illinois
Department of Employment Security, Illinois added 48,300 new jobs,
which is the highest annual gain since 1999. The December seasonally
adjusted Illinois unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, the lowest rate
since October 2001. In 2004, the unemployment rate had its largest
one-year drop since 1998 -- from 6.3 percent to 5.8 percent.
"When I came into office two years ago,
I wanted to create better opportunities for Illinois residents so
every person could have a chance for a brighter tomorrow," Gov.
Blagojevich said. "Our work isn't done, but we certainly are making
impressive strides -- adding more than 48,000 new jobs last year. We
have formed strong partnerships with companies like Aisin, which is
producing a new generation of products for a new generation of
consumers. Aisin sees the incredible value of the Illinois work
force, our top-notch business climate, the competitive advantage of
our location and our superior transportation system. By partnering
with Aisin and many, many other companies, we are seeing tangible
signs of how Opportunity Returns is working for the residents of
southern Illinois and across the state."
Aisin is a leading manufacturer of
auto components for Toyota, Nissan, GM, Honda and Mitsubishi. Since
coming into office, Gov. Blagojevich has partnered with Aisin on
three important expansion projects at REDCO Industrial Park.
Together these projects have spurred more than $50 million in
Gov. Blagojevich toured Aisin's two
completed facilities, which provide innovative, high-quality auto
components. Aisin Manufacturing Illinois LLC produces sunroofs and
power slide doors, and Aisin Light Metals LLC produces lightweight
aluminum extrusions, including bumper reinforcements and other
bumper parts. Aisin Electronics Illinois LLC will be the third plant
in the same industrial park, and production is expected to begin
later this summer. The new facility will produce electronic
components for microcomputer-controlled sunroofs, power sliding door
systems and other related electronics.
"Gov. Blagojevich has been a strong partner in this state, and we
are thankful for the commitment he has shown to help our businesses
grow, thrive and create jobs for local residents," said Steve
Takahashi, president of Aisin Manufacturing Illinois.
When Aisin expressed an interest in building new facilities in
Illinois, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic
Opportunity developed comprehensive investment packages totaling
more than $14.5 million to bring or expand the corporation's three
facilities in Illinois. Additionally, the Illinois Department of
Transportation provided a $676,000 Economic Development
Program grant and a $55,900 Truck Access Route Program grant
to the city of Marion to make transport to and from the new Aisin
Electronics facility more efficient to meet shipping, receiving and
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"Time and time again, Gov. Blagojevich has proven his commitment
to southern Illinois," said state Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton. "The
more than $14.5 million in state support for these Aisin expansions
is making all the difference in the world. It will mean almost 500
permanent, good jobs for our region, and that is what Opportunity
Returns is all about."
The Regional Economic Development Corporation developed the REDCO
Industrial Park in 1999, and Aisin Manufacturing was the first
tenant. REDCO was formed as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation
by several local governments, including Williamson County and the
cities of Herrin and Marion, to promote industrial planning,
development, renewal and improvement in southern Illinois.
"When international companies like Aisin choose to build and
invest in our state, we're seeing that Opportunity Returns is
working for Illinois," said Jack Lavin, director of the Department
of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. "Other companies are hearing
about our many Illinois success stories, which is leading to even
more businesses investing and creating jobs in our state. Gov.
Blagojevich is consistently proving that he'll invest in companies
that invest in Illinois, and those investments are fueling our
About Opportunity Returns
Gov. Blagojevich's Opportunity Returns regional economic
development strategy is the most aggressive, comprehensive
approach to creating jobs in Illinois' history. Since a
one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn't
work, the governor has divided the state into 10 regions, each with
a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to
opportunities and challenges.
Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to
make each region more accessible, more marketable, more
entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses. It is about
upgrading the skills of the local work force, increasing the access
to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and
creating and retaining jobs. Opportunity Returns is about
successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large
and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.