Nippon Sharyo's impact on Rochelle's economy

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- 23 News first told you yesterday Nippon Sharyo is laying off another 110 workers, but despite more than 350 layoffs over the last year and a half, it might not be as bad for the city as we may think.

Typically layoffs hurt a city's economy, but Rochelle's Economic Development Director Jason Anderson says the area is thriving, and he actually sees more opportunity on the horizon despite the layoffs at Nippon Sharyo.

"Out of a tragedy I think arises many opportunities," he said.

At it's height, Nippon Sharyo employed more than 700 people, most highly trained workers making rail cars at the Rochelle facility.
After opening in 2012 the company quickly grew, producing its 1,000th car just three years later.

The company started downsizing just months after that 1,000th car celebration, announcing 100 layoffs in September 2015, 50 in February 2016, 100 in January, and now another 110. While Nippon Sharyo is clearly hurting the layoffs aren't necessarily a bad thing for Rochelle’s economy.

"Workforce development in this region has really desperately needed a new wave of workers and this is going to be an opportunity for other companies to benefit," Anderson explained.

"Rochelle has had one of the most dynamic and growing local economies that we've seen across the State of Illinois. That's one of the advantages of having a regional hub like that," 90th District Rep. Tom Demmer, said.

Even if the company closes and moves out, the facility itself likely won't sit empty for long.

"I will be in a position to be able to market those facilities to businesses that I’ve had to turn away," Anderson said, explaining the high demand already for the large facility.