HEGEWISCH — Proclaiming that a "renaissance" on the Southeast Side is underway, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday celebrated the news that an auto parts supplier will open a new factory in Hegewisch.
The new factory for Flex-N-Gate will employ 286 people when the 288,000-square-foot warehouse at 2924 E. 126th St. is up and running in 2019, officials said.
"We are seeing a manufacturing renaissance in Chicago and today Flex-N-Gate is building on that momentum,” Emanuel said. “This new facility will create hundreds of new full-time jobs, bring tens of millions of dollars in new investments, and strengthen Chicago’s manufacturing ecosystem for generations to come.”
Flex-N-Gate CEO Shahid Khan said he was proud to open the company's fifth Illinois plant in Chicago and to bring "good middle class" jobs to the city. The auto parts produced at the new factory will supply Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant, which is less than a mile away.
Khan, who immigrated from Pakistan to attend the University of Illinois, is also the owner of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and the English Premier League's Fulham Football Club.
Both national and state politics loomed over the afternoon celebration.
Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) said Khan's accomplishments prove that immigrants have a crucial role in American society, and said she was proud to have his new factory in her ward.
President Donald Trump has vowed to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
“My papers were all in order then, and they have been ever since,” Khan joked as he began his brief remarks.
During his speech, Khan was careful to praise both Emanuel and Rauner, who have been at loggerheads over a number of issues, including the financial crisis engulfing the Chicago Public Schools and the governor's proposal to sell the Thompson Center — which the mayor has blocked.
Here we go pic.twitter.com/ROzJPHtsyH— Tony Arnold (@tonyjarnold) May 11, 2017
"This is a great day for the South Side of Chicago," Rauner said. "These are 286 good payin[g] jobs in the neighborhoods that need it most."
In return for Flex-N-Gate's investment of at least $30 million into the facility during the next 10 years, the Urbana-based firm will get workforce training funds from the Illinois Department of Commerce and the City of Chicago.
The firm will also get state tax credits in return for the investment, officials said.