Military base redevelopment supports local economy
WILMINGTON – May 12, 2011. An advocate for the reuse of Illinois military bases, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon voiced support today for a plan to add up to 100 jobs at a new maintenance center in a redeveloped portion of the former Joliet Arsenal and ammunition plant.
A southwest suburban company plans to purchase 50 acres in the South Arsenal Logistics Center in Wilmington to construct a maintenance and repair center this fall. The maintenance center will service freight containers, chassis and tractor trailers from the BNSF Logistics Park and Union Pacific Joliet Intermodal Terminal.
The planned $15 million investment will consist of a 30,000-square-foot office building, a 14-bay repair facility and a container/trailer storage area. It is expected to create 50 mechanic-related jobs in its first phase, with the potential for another 50 in its second phase. The company also has an option to buy an additional 150 acres at the arsenal for future expansion.
“Illinois welcomes these new jobs to the Joliet Arsenal, a location which serves as a model for military base redevelopment nationwide,” Lt. Governor Simon said. “Our state’s economic recovery is tied to the health and expansion of our locally-based businesses, regional industrial parks and military facilities.”
Lt. Governor Simon serves as the Chair of the Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Opportunity Committee (IMBSEDC), which advocates for the reuse, retention and realignment of the state’s military bases. The IMBSEDC was established in 2005 in response to federal plans to close several bases nationwide.
Over the past 6 years, IMBSEDC has helped facilitate re-development of bases closed in Joliet, Savanna, and Springfield, as well as help the state’s active bases improve and make community connections that could stave off future closures.
Among its duties, the IMBSEDC serves as a liaison between the state and community organizations that support the long-term viability of military bases; communicates with the state’s congressional delegation; and coordinates communication between the public, governmental bodies, and officials about the future of military bases in the Illinois.
“To keep our military bases open, we need to demonstrate not only their national security purposes, but also highlight the economic impact they have around the communities,” Simon said.
On Thursday, Simon toured several developments on the former Joliet Arsenal site, including the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, South Arsenal Logistics Center, Operating Engineers Local 150 Training Center, Joliet Army Training Center and Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.
The Joliet Arsenal Development Authority (JADA) was created in 1995 for the purposes of transforming nearly 3,000 acres of land spanning several communities into manufacturing and distribution business parks, a major source of employment for the region.
JADA was named Base Re-development Community of the Year in 2009 by the Association of Defense Communities (ADC), the national trade group that oversees Base Realignment and Closure of Military Facilities. The Joliet re-development has created over 3,000 jobs and over a billion dollars in private investment.
“We’re look forward to working with Lt. Governor Sheila Simon and the military base committee so we can continue to play an integral role in base redevelopment in Illinois,” said Rick Kwasneski, executive director of the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority.