CHICAGO (CBS) — Ford is investing $1 billion in its two Chicago area plants, adding 500 new jobs to expand production of three SUVs built in Chicago.
The expansion of the Chicago Assembly Plant and Chicago Heights Stamping Plant, starting in March, will allow greater capacity for production of the new Ford Explorer, the new Police Interceptor SUV, and the new Lincoln Aviator.
Ford is adding a new body shop and paint shop at the Chicago Assembly Plant, and making upgrades to the final assembly area. It’s also adding new stamping lines at the Chicago Heights plant.
The company also is spending $40 million to install new LED lighting, cafeterias, break areas, and parking lot security features at both plants.
Ford executives said the overall plan is to add 500 jobs, and to improve the work experience for employees at the two plants. Approximately 4,500 people already work at the assembly plant, and 1,300 work at the stamping plant.
“We’re making these investments, because we believe in American manufacturing, and good-paying middle class jobs,” Ford Motor Company executive vice president Joseph Hinrichs said at Thursday’s preview of the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place. “Ford builds more vehicles in the United States than any other automaker, we have more U.S. hourly workers than any other automaker, and we want to keep it that way. We’re going to make our Chicago plants more competitive and efficient than ever before.”
Ford officials said the hiring process for the 500 new full-time jobs at the two plants began at the end of 2018. Production of the three new SUVs will start in the next few months.