After years of layoffs and companies choosing to move, Freeport and Stephenson County desperately needed a jobs jolt - and, on Tuesday - they got a big one.
"Rubbermaid was a tough hit, but more companies hopefully will be able to replenish those jobs, and move forward," Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp said.
Leading the employment charge on this land behind Titan Tire east of Freeport will be a hog processing center. The facility will be known as Freeport Farms. In the beginning it will employ 100 people. However, if sales go well, Freeport Farms could add a second shift, and it is hoped create as many as 800 jobs in the next five years.
"We're pleased to be here because of the high quality of animals that are produced here, which will help us out tremendously," Trim-Rite President Jim Jendruczek said.
At Hi-Plains Pork in Stephenson County, these producers tell me Trim-Rite coming to the county will be a huge advantage because they won't have to take their hogs as far to market.
"It's going to save us a lot more time and transportation. Transportation costs are going to be considerably less in a short distance like that," Steve Moest said.
Moest says those savings will help pay off bills, and be convenient for the area's hog producers.
"Good thing for farmers and an additional market. It will be more competition, which can't be bad. More packing capacity out there will be good for us," Moest said.
And Freeport Farms could only be the beginning. At least two other companies are also interested in locating at Mill Race, meaning more announcements could be on the way.
"Something like this puts on the state map, we're pleased that they are investing the money they are in Northern Illinois and we're going to ask them for more," Freeport Area Economic Development Foundation's Doug Cross said.
Freeport farms should be completed and ready for business by spring of 2007. Workers will make between eight and eleven dollars an hour. The company's president said the company will be sending out notices across the Stateline in the coming months about the job openings.