New plant to create hundreds of jobs on Chicago’s Southeast Side
Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently joined representatives from CRRC Sifang America, the Chicago Transit Authority, CenterPoint Properties, Jobs to Move America, the Chicago Federation of Labor, and World Business Chicago to break ground on a new $100 million railcar manufacturing facility on the Southeast Side of Chicago. The CRRC Sifang America plant will assemble the CTA’s newest railcars and create 370 skilled factory and new construction jobs in Chicago’s Hegewisch neighborhood.
Headquartered in China, CRRC is the world’s largest supplier of rail transit equipment. The 380,994-square-foot facility is expected to be complete in spring 2018 and will employ nearly 170 factory and warehouse workers, and support approximately 200 construction jobs. Approximately $7 million will be spent on workforce training for the new operations.
“This new facility represents a major investment in Chicago that will bring economic opportunities to the Southeast Side, while creating good-paying jobs for hundreds of workers,” Mayor Emanuel said. “The railcars that emerge from this facility will be the latest step we’ve taken to invest in world-class transportation, and to create a 21st Century transit system.”
“CRRC Sifang America is grateful for the opportunity to work with the Chicago Transit Authority to produce the next generation of railcars in Chicago, for Chicago,” said CRRC Corporation Vice President Sun Yongcai, who also serves as a member of the CRRC standing committee. “We are committed to producing top-of-the- line railcars to enhance CTA rider experience, while also creating new jobs at our assembly facility in the city. We are confident CRRC Sifang America’s partnerships in Chicago will make this project a success for us and for the city.”
CRRC is headquartered in Beijing, with operations in Qingdao and is an example of the tremendous investment Chicago has seen from China seen since The Gateway Cities Agreement was signed by Mayor Emanuel and Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Chao in 2013. This first-of-its-kind agreement links Chicago with 8 Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shenyang, Hangzhou, Wuhan, and Chengdu. The agreement focuses on expanding trade and investment cooperation, strengthening communication, enhancing trust, boosting economic development, and creating jobs; it establishes Chicago as the gateway to the U.S. for Chinese companies. Every year since the agreement’s inception, Chicago has seen record investment from China.
As part of CTA’s ongoing modernization efforts, last year the agency awarded a manufacturing contract to CRRC’s U.S. subsidiary, CRRC Sifang America, to build up to 846 new rail cars. The CTA’s first order of 400 railcars will be assembled at the new facility and will replace CTA’s oldest railcars, which are more than 30 years old. This will mark the first time in more than 50 years that CTA railcars have been produced in Chicago.
“We are committed to providing our customers with more reliable and comfortable transportation for decades to come,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said. “We are continuing our investments in new buses and trains that will improve commutes, lower maintenance costs and provide a more pleasant customer experience.”
Officials attending the groundbreaking included: U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth,, Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez, 10th Ward Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski-Garza, Jobs to Move America Deputy Director Linda Nguyen, and People’s Republic of China Consul General Hong Lei.
CRRC Sifang America is committed to hiring from the city’s communities and surrounding areas and is working with unions such as the Chicago Federation of Labor, IBEW and SMART, to secure a union workforce. CRRC is also working with Jobs to Move America, the Calumet Area Industrial Commission and the City Colleges of Chicago.