LOVES PARK (WIFR) – It’s one of the largest expansions here in the Stateline, set to bring in hundreds of jobs. Woodward finally broke ground today on its new Loves Park facility. The project got even bigger, even before construction began.
The Woodward facility is going in at the corner of Perryville and Forest Hills Road It’s going to be almost a third larger than originally planned. That’s because the Aerospace manufacturer won more contracts. This multi-million dollar project is expected to create 800 construction jobs, and 1,000 jobs in the next seven years. To Woodward Chairman Tom Gendron, that’s the most exciting part.
“It’s going to be one of the largest facilities in the region, so it’s going to take a lot of work. Just moving the dirt is a huge amount of work, so we have a lot of construction jobs over the next you know, two years to get everything up and operational so it’ll be a lot of employment here,” said Gendron.
Most of the jobs will be manufacturing and engineering. Woodward will start hiring next spring. It’s not just the company that is excited about the expansion. Those who live in the area say it’s a welcomed change.
“Loves Park’s grown leaps and bounds since I came here, you know, this was all rural area.”
From new roads to new buildings, Charlie Dahlberg has seen it all. He’s lived on Harlem Road in Loves Park for nearly 40 years. He says Woodward’s expansion is exactly what the area needs.
“Yeah, that’s great if they bring in, obviously they’re going to bring more jobs in. I know there’s a lot of people unemployed in the Rockford area,” Dahlberg said.
With hundreds of jobs on the way, Dahlberg is ready to welcome his new neighbors. “This is a big plus for the whole community.”
Carol Francis is also ready for change. She’s one of the top managers at Woodward and is so excited about the project, she had to check out the land for herself.
“It was kind of hard to imagine a building on it,” Francis said.
Francis says she’s proud to be a part of a huge impact in the community.
“There’s this excitement and thrill of knowing we’re investing in the community and building a future for my kids and my grandkids, so there’s a whole gambit of emotions.”
That’s a future most residents like Dahlberg are excited to see.
Some residents were concerned businesses nearby like Subway would be torn down. We’ve learned Subway will stay open, until it moves to a new location when its lease expires in 2018.
It will be noisy for quite a while, as construction won’t wrap up until this time next year.