WEST HUMBOLDT PARK — Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Transit Authority announced Wednesday they were awarding a major manufacturing contract to a 120-year-old Chicago business.
Seats for 300 new CTA buses will be manufactured entirely by Freedman Seating, a West Humboldt Park firm, as part of a $148 million contract recently awarded to Nova Bus.
Freedman Seating has its origins in upholstery made for horse-drawn buggies at the 1893 Columbian Exposition.
"Why shouldn't these jobs be here in Chicago, because they have the best product," CTA President Forrest Claypool said.
Craig Freedman, president of the company he claimed is "the leader in transportation seating," said it would enable the business to add 100 jobs for a total of 600 positions by the end of the year at a converted former Motorola factory.
The CTA said the agreement with the company is worth $8.25 million.
The company turns out 1,200 seats a day, with the New York City and Los Angeles transportation systems among its clients, and it will produce 11,000 seats as part of the CTA deal.
Emanuel compared it to a Chicago Police Department contract with Ford to build Intrepids at the automaker's Chicago Assembly Plant on Torrence Avenue, helping to add a full shift to the assembly line.
Claypool credited Emanuel for the $493 million bus-modernization program announced last June and said it was enabling the CTA to keep up with rising ridership, which hit a 22-year high overall in 2012 and a 50-year high for train ridership.