CSL, Nucor expansions state’s most notable in 2018

September 16, 2018

KANKAKEE — Once the poster child for economic depression, Kankakee County now is being used as a prime example for business expansion.

Illinois’s privately funded business development magazine, Intersect Illinois, referenced the two major plant expansions taking place within Kankakee County as examples of what the state is capable of achieving.

The $1 billion-plus expansion at CSL Behring and the $180 million investment at Nucor Steel were highlighted by Mark Peterson, Intersect Illinois CEO since June 2017, in a question and answer format story in the just-released annual publication.

In the 2018 edition of Intersect Illinois, a glossy magazine published by the nonprofit economic development corporation started by Gov. Bruce Rauner in early 2016, the two massive Kankakee County expansions were cited as examples of what can take place in Illinois.

CSL Behring is in the very early stages of its 1.8 million-square-foot expansion to its Bourbonnais Township plant. Nucor is in the process of a $180 million plant expansion, which is expected to be complete in late 2019.

In the Q-and-A story, Peterson was asked what are the three biggest project wins in Illinois during the past year.

He responded:

“The project with the biggest impact is CSL Behring. ... It will take 10 years to build out the entire 1.8 million-square-foot campus. It will be well over $1 billion in capital investment and will create thousands of new jobs,” Peterson said.

Regarding the Nucor project, he said: “This was an existing firm that was a threat to leave our state. Instead, they will add 75 jobs and invest $180 million into an expansion in steel manufacturing right here in Illinois.”

The third project he cited was a Chicago business expansion.

The 2018 edition of Intersect Illinois was published this week.

Tim Nugent, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County, smiled from ear to ear when he saw the Intersect Illinois story.

“This confirms what we have been telling people. There are a lot of things happening here. Major investments are taking place here. It’s happening all over Kankakee County,” Nugent said.

Peterson praised Nugent and Lisa Wogan, the alliance’s director of marketing and business attraction, for the work they have done in helping bring Kankakee County’s name forward.

“I certainly wouldn’t say what’s happening in Kankakee County is common. It’s a reflection of the hard work that is being done by this community,” he said.

So, why is Kankakee County having such success?

“I think the reasons are obvious. For communities that have struggled, they have to redefine themselves. Kankakee County has done that, and they are now a success story.

“The world is a very different place now, and communities need to redefine themselves every 10 years or so,” he said.

Kankakee County, of course, still has many miles to travel. But, Peterson noted, they are headed in the right direction; and he uses the county’s success as examples of what can happen across Illinois.

“There is so much noise. It’s easy to get lost in all the negative news we hear. So, it’s good to have people say, ‘This is what’s going on here.’ Everybody wins when things like this happen, and it creates energy for everyone.”

Nugent has noted one issue: the county has not been able to fill all the jobs that are available. He said there are about 4,000 job postings here, and that only has grown in recent months.

Back to the state business magazine, Nugent said this type of exposure can only further business attraction here.

“People around Illinois and across the country are starting to take notice.”

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