LOVES PARK (WIFR) -- It's one of the Stateline's most positive pieces of economic news in at least half a century and today, further proof that the plan is right on track. Woodward workers broke ground on a new state of the art facility that will bring prestige to the company and eventually at least 1,000 jobs to the Stateline.
Machinist Richard Rupprecht, has spent more days at Woodward than just about anyone and few days have provided more of a treat than Halloween 2012.
"I’ve been with Woodward Governor for 45 years,” Rupprecht says. "This has been monumental to be making this kind of expansion and it just shows where the company is going and it's just great to be a part of it.”
Over 140 Woodward workers took part in today's groundbreaking but those left behind at the company weren't left out. They were able to watch a live broadcast of the ground breaking in the cafeteria.
“Members appreciate the company but at the same time they take care of the company as if it's their own. It's an unbelievable combination," Rupprecht said.
Eventually the pile of dirt is going to turn into a beautiful 300,000 square foot facility but it's not going to happen overnight. Construction is expected to start in March of 2013 with the entire thing being complete by March of 2014.
"We're all pretty excited we're getting to build something pretty special. A factory that everybody in the world would like to see and we're doing it in the Rockford community," said Woodward’s ATS President Sager Patel.
The community is also taking notice.
It's another busy breakfast at Pat's Café, which is less than a half mile away from the new Woodward location. "I’ve been here 27 years and it's just been trees and fields hardly anything's been out this way.” The thought of an increased workforce in the area is as delicious to owner Pat McRill as a plate of biscuits and gravy. “It's going to impact the whole community. Just absolutely thrilled,” McRill said.
This expansion is still expected to create more than 1,000 jobs in the next ten years.
The project will be led by Ghafari Architectual Firm. They're based in Michigan but have an office in Chicago. Arc Design from Loves Park was named the Civil Engineering firm. Another local company, Thomas Graceffa and Associates was named as the landscape architect.
When so many companies are talking about downsizing, it's refreshing to see Woodward continue the company's plan to double its workforce over the next 10 years.
Over 140 Woodward workers got to shovel away the first piles of dirt for the 300,000 square foot Woodward Rock Cut location, near the intersection of Harlem and Perryville roads. Those workers that couldn't be there were able to watch a live telecast of the news conference sent directly to Woodward's cafeteria and it's the world class workforce that helped solidify Woodward's decision to expand locally.
Michigan based architectural firm Ghafari Associates will lead the project, that is expected to be fully completed by March of 2014.
On the 23 News at 5, 6, and 10 you'll not only here more from CEO Tom Gendron, but we'll also get the perspective of a machinist who's been with Woodward for 46 years and the owner of a Cafe located less than a half mile from the new location.