Nippon Sharyo opened its first American railcar manufacturing plant. According to the company, the new factory, based in Rochelle, Ill., will employ 250 workers by the end of next year and create additional jobs throughout the company’s American supply-chain. Nippon Sharyo has already identified more than 200 potential suppliers and vendors in the Midwest region alone.
In opening the Northern Illinois plant, Nippon Sharyo is fulfilling a commitment made to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in 2009 to establish U.S. manufacturing operations in order to meet eligibility requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Buy America” program. “Buy America” requires that projects receiving federal investment use domestically manufactured supplies, ensuring that American workers and factories receive the maximum economic benefit from federal investments.
Nippon Sharyo invested $50 million in the Rochelle, Ill. facility. During the plant’s construction, employment ranged from 50 to 120 building and trades workers at a time. The facility has the capability to produce 120 new passenger cars annually, and its first orders include commuter railcars for service in Illinois, California, Virginia, and Ontario.
Workers in other states are already seeing new opportunities from Nippon Sharyo’s plant. Super Steel, a Milwaukee, Wis., company contracted to supply steel components for trains, held a job fair last Saturday for welders and other craftsmen who will work on Nippon Sharyo orders.
With nearly 2,700 facilities across the U.S., the railway supply industry is a significant part of the U.S. economy, employing an estimated 94,000 people in 49 states and the District of Columbia.