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June 10, 1999

Solo Cup To Anchor Redevelopment Of Chicago USX Site

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan, Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Solo Cup Company today announced that the firm has agreed to build a new $71 million manufacturing facility on the city's south side, a total $109 million project that will bring 550 jobs to the area and spark redevelopment of the long-vacant USX complex.

The company, a fixture in Illinois and Chicago since 1936, will construct a 1 million-square-foot factory on a 107-acre parcel of the former USX site. The firm will re-locate operations from its facility at 95th Street and Dorchester. The new plant is scheduled to open in the fall of 2001.

The Solo Cup project and the redevelopment of the USX site is the first economic development initiative to benefit from Ryan's new Illinois FIRST program. Illinois FIRST will help pay for needed infrastructure improvements on the USX property.

"Several months ago, I promised that I would do my best to redevelop the USX site and bring jobs and opportunity to Chicago's south side," Ryan said. "Our partnership with Solo Cup, USX and the City of Chicago is the first step to revitalizing this area. This new manufacturing facility will be a magnet that will draw other businesses and jobs to the old USX property."

Solo Cup is a leading producer of plastic cups, containers, cutlery and straws. The firm employs 4,200 workers worldwide, with 2,200 employees at facilities in Highland Park, Wheeling, Urbana and Chicago.

One key to the Solo Cup project is a pledge by state officials and the City of Chicago to help defray the added cost of constructing a building on the former USX site. Concrete foundations from the former USX factories create difficulties for new buildings. The state-city agreement calls for the old foundations to be buried under an appropriate layer of landfill. The USX property has been vacant since 1992 when the steel mills closed and the last of 20,000 steel workers were laid off.

"The city's blueprint for revitalizing South Works and the surrounding community cannot be fully realized without the continued commitment of USX and the state and federal governments, and I thank all of them for their tireless efforts," Daley said.

"Solo Cup wanted to stay in Illinois and continue its long history of production in Chicago at the USX site. But there were environmental concerns that had to be addressed, as there are at many former industrial sites," Ryan added. "With the help of Mayor Daley and the City of Chicago, we have developed a package that enables us to address these concerns and keep these good jobs in the city."

Additionally, Ryan said the state will provide job training funds to help Solo Cup upgrade the skills of workers who will be using new manufacturing technologies and equipment. The state also will fund infrastructure improvements throughout the USX site to make the area more attractive for future development.

The state's share of the Solo Cup project -- $15 million from Illinois FIRST -- will include constructing an East-West Industrial Boulevard and the development of a rail spur to the site, preparation of the property and the relocation of utilities. The city's contribution to the project is $16 million.

The project also includes the donation of 20 acres by USX for a new lakefront park that will run along the eastern portion of the Solo Cup development, as well as land for a community park located at 89th Street and Mackinaw, part of a total commitment of 123 acres of open space. In all, USX is contributing $6.6 million to the Solo Cup project.

Illinois FIRST is a five-year, $12 billion statewide infrastructure improvement program launched by Ryan and approved by the General Assembly in May. The initiative will help fix the state's roads and bridges, construct new highways, rebuild crumbling schools, help solve critical water and sewage delivery problems and fund various projects that will improve the quality of life in communities throughout the state.

Part of the mission of Illinois FIRST is to help state and local governments make the infrastructure improvements needed to jump-start economic development on urban brownfields and other under-used properties, like the USX site.

"We believe that Solo Cup can be the catalyst for economic development and the revitalization of Chicago's south side," said Pam McDonough, director of the state Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. "The redevelopment of brownfield sites is a top concern throughout the state, especially in areas where potential sites for industrial development are at a premium. We must work to clean up these sites and make them attractive to new development."


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