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July 23, 1999

Governor Announces $6 Million Grant For Ford Training Center

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the construction of a state-of-the-art automotive training center in Chicago Heights to be operated jointly by the State of Illinois, the United Auto Workers and the Ford Motor Company.

"This facility will offer valuable training opportunities to Illinois workers while teaching them skills that are coveted by high-tech companies," Ryan said. "This project also highlights the benefits of forging partnerships with the private sector to meet the economic challenges facing our state as we enter the 21st Century."

Under an agreement with Ford, the United Auto Workers and Governor's State University, the state Department of Commerce and Community Affairs will issue a $6 million grant to the University to design and construct a technical training and classroom facility on land Ford owns adjacent to its Chicago Stamping Plant. Ford will lease the training center for as many as 25 years from the state while paying all taxes, utilities and operational expenses associated with the center. After 25 years, Ford will have the option to purchase the facility from the state at its fair market value. Ford and the UAW plan to provide matching funds of up to $12 million to equip the facility with state-of-the-art robotics and manufacturing machinery. "This facility illustrates our commitment to workforce development and training. The more opportunities there are for Illinois workers to acquire high-tech skills, the easier it is for Illinois to attract high-tech companies and create further economic development," DCCA Director Pam McDonough said.

"The average worker starting out today will change jobs 10 times during his career," said U.S. Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr., who joined in the announcement. "With today's technical advances, free-market competition and globalization, workers and employers must be willing to adapt and learn new occupational skills. I thank Ford, the UAW and the State of Illinois for their commitments to building better job opportunities for the new millennium."

After the training center is completed, students from Governors State and other regional educational institutions will have access to training in robotics and other high-tech manufacturing processes. Ford and the UAW also will use the facility for training purposes. Increased public usage is planned for the future, allowing other schools and businesses to utilize the training center.

"This training center will illustrate the success that can be achieved through the cooperation of government, education, labor and industry," said Peter Pestillo, vice chairman and vice president of Ford Motor Company. "It will put both workers and students on a high-tech leadership path well into the future."

"This is a good example of government, labor and business coming to together to provide something that will benefit not just workers, but the community and the State of Illinois," added Paul Korman, regional director for the United Auto Workers.

Ford also has agreed to provide orientation and training sessions to faculty of Governors State at no cost. In addition, faculty from the university will be able to consult Ford engineers when developing curricula.

"Governors State, the local community colleges and high schools will be profoundly altered by this opportunity. More importantly, the educational and employment opportunities for regional residents will explode," said Dr. Paula Wolff, president of Governors State University.

The training center will be managed by a nine-member board composed of representatives from the UAW, State of Illinois and Ford Motor Co. Similar training facilities are located at Ford plants in Lima, Ohio and St. Paul, Minn.


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