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Article posted: 4/17/2012 3:30 PM

Quinn: Manufacturer will create 100 jobs in Illinois

By Madhu Krishnamurthy

More than 100 jobs will be created with French manufacturer Lafarge North America relocating its U.S. headquarters from Virginia to Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn announced at a Tuesday morning news conference in Rosemont.

Lafarge, one of the largest cement, aggregate and concrete manufacturers in the world, already employs 300 workers at distribution plants in Illinois. The company will invest roughly $10 million to create more than 100 administrative jobs in three to four years, officials said.

John Stull, CEO for Lafarge North America, said many locations near O'Hare International Airport are being considered for the headquarters, including Rosemont and Elk Grove Village, though he didn't voice a preference for a particular town.

Lafarge is one of roughly 1,600 foreign-based firms in Illinois that employ more than 300,000 workers statewide.

Quinn recruited Lafarge and met with its senior management during a recent economic trade mission to Europe. He said several factors, including Illinois' central location, its infrastructure and its transportation resources such as highways, railroads, waterways and O'Hare Airport, enticed company officials to relocate operations here.

"We are a good place to do business. We have good workers, men and women who are highly skilled," Quinn said. "We are blessed by having a good location, and good transportation, great roads, a highway system we are investing in through our capital roads program."

The state is investing $43 billion in infrastructure projects, he said. That number includes the state's multiyear $31 billion capital investment plan, partially funded by video gambling that still hasn't gotten off the ground, and the toll road's $12 billion multiyear construction plan, funded by a toll increase of almost 100 percent that took effect in January.

Lafarge will be bidding for many of those state contracts, which it has been doing for the past several years, Stull said.

Quinn said Lafarge's coming adds to the state's six straight months of job growth that has created more than 28,000 manufacturing jobs and 130,000 jobs overall.

The state will provide Lafarge a business investment package worth about $6.3 million over 10 years to leverage the company's private investment. It will support job training for workers. The funding is contingent on the company meeting its investment and jobs numbers, officials said.

Lafarge employs 68,000 workers globally, and about 4,500 are employed at 400 locations in 41 U.S. states. The company has a cement distribution terminal and grinding station in South Chicago, a terminal in Waukegan, and a cement plant in the southern Illinois town of Joppa.

"Most of our business is around the Midwest area," Stull said. "We believe in sustainable investments like O'Hare. Illinois has invested the money well in trains, roadways and waterways. We really felt welcome and wanted in the state."

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