After months of planning, the city of Rockford and the home improvement corporation Lowe's are closer than ever to begin a long-term employment partnership.
"Rockford has a great location, a great labor market and great transportation costs for the road network that is here," Lowe's site development manager Joe Hilton said.
Tuesday night, Rockford's codes and regulations committee unanimously agreed to re-zone this farmland on Montague Road into light industrial, the zoning necessary for the Lowe's distribution center. Now, only an expected city council vote next Monday stands in the way of the company adding between 400 and 600 new jobs to the Rock River Valley.
"I think it's incredibly exciting, this is I believe one of the bigger announcements that this region, this city's made for quite some time and we're very hopeful," Rockford city administrator Jim Ryan said. Should Rockford city's council approve the facility and its layout, Lowe's officials hope to break ground in August, and have the facility's foundation in place before winter.
The company believes the distribution center will be a great fit for both adults and high school graduates ready to enter the workforce. "There will be quite a few number of jobs that will be fork lift jobs, what I consider blue collar type of work, which is a good thing. We can run the gamut for people we can provide work to," Hilton said.
"One thing I think you'll see about Lowe's is they are a partner in the community, and that's something we are looking forward to," Ryan said.
A partnership is one step closer to adding hundreds of jobs in the Forest City.