New Railcar Plant Opens in Illinois

Built in Rochelle, Ill. with an investment of about $45 million, the Nippon Sharyo U.S.A., Inc. facility will produce 120 new passenger cars annually.

Federal Railroad Deputy Administrator Karen Hedlund, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, and Nippon Sharyo Chairman Katsuyuki Ikushima took part in the July 19 celebration marking the opening of a passenger railcar factory in Rochelle, Ill. Nippon Sharyo U.S.A., Inc. was established in 1982 and has its headquarters in Arlington Heights, Ill., but this factory is a shift for the company to manufacturing in America. Previously, the railcars' shells were made in Japan and the cars were then assembled in the United States; Nippon Sharyo U.S.A. partners with Sumitomo Corporation of America to produce and deliver railcars to North American customers.

Nippon Sharyo invested $35 million to construct the plant, and the city of Rochelle and the state of Illinois contributed more than $10 million to improve infrastructure for the plant, according to the company, which said Rochelle's proximity to two mainline railroads and the "friendly community environment" were factors in its decision to build it in Rochelle. Quinn participated in the groundbreaking in October 2010.

The factory will employ about 250 people by the end of 2013 and will be capable of producing 120 new passenger railcars per year. The company announced earlier that the first completed railcar, a Gallery-Type Electric Multiple Unit for Metra, a commuter rail agency operating in the greater Chicago area, will roll out of the factory at the end of 2012.

Company officials said their strategy (it included creating two subsidiaries: Nippon Sharyo Manufacturing, LLC and Nippon Sharyo Engineering & Marketing, LLC) is focused on increasing their competiveness in the expanding passenger railcar market in the United States and also responding to the increased desire for "localized" railcar assembly.

Transportation-related manufacturing is increasing in Illinois; Quinn was in Normal, Ill., on July 17 as executives with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation launched production of the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for the U.S. market from their plant in Normal. Mitsubishi invested $45 million to retool the facility to begin production of the vehicle, which previously was made in Japan, according to the governoor's office, which said Chrysler's Illinois workforce has grown from 200 in 2009 to more than 4,000 this summer and Ford has added a third shift in Chicago.

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