COAL CITY – Frozen ground, freezing temperatures and blowing snow didn’t stop representatives from Union Pacific, Coal City, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s office, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson’s office and several others from holding a groundbreaking ceremony for a new 285-acre logistics park to be built in Coal City.
“This will be a historic day in Coal City, and not just because of the cold weather,” Coal City Mayor Neal Nelson said at the beginning of the event. “I’m excited to get this thing rolling.”
The new park will be on the southwest corner of Reed and South Broadway roads in Coal City, right along the Union Pacific railroad line. The park will be developed by Clayco and Providence Logistics and aims to attract companies that need access to rail.
Phase one of the project – which includes building new railroad crossings and tracks for the park – is estimated to cost $4.9 million, said Nancy Norton Ammer, chief executive officer for the Grundy Economic Development Council.
Developing this project has been an ongoing process for the four years. Construction for phase one of the project is scheduled to begin as soon as weather permits.
“I think they would like to start building last month,” Ammer joked.
Before any companies can commit to building facilities within the new park, the rail lines will need to be completed.
“Typically if a client is going into a park, they like to see it first to know that everything is there,” Ammer said.
As such, no companies have committed to build within the park, yet, but Ammer said they are “getting close with quite a few,” and announcements regarding which companies will be coming in should be made after construction progresses.
Figures regarding the number of jobs the park will create and the projected total cost of the park cannot be finalized until the number and size of the facilities being built within the park is known.
Ammer said the park will be attractive to companies that use manifest rail services.
“Companies where there would be a value to their supply chain to be right on the railroad,” Ammer said. “We could have product from the Mexico area that is serving the Chicagoland market or we could have something that is assembled in the Chicago or Coal City area going south.”
At the luncheon following the ceremony, Nelson said a trip to Rochelle – a city that has a strong partnership with Union Pacific Railroad – sold him on the idea of this project.
“I saw the number of manufacturing jobs – these were good paying jobs – and I thought, ‘What does Rochelle have that we don’t have,’” Nelson said.
Nelson said he hopes Coal City can develop a similar partnership with Union Pacific through this new logistics park and other future projects.
Ammer said the project will expand the tax base of Coal City by bringing in new jobs and facilities, and further establish Grundy County as a logistics hub for the Midwest.
State representatives, local property owner groups, village administrators and several others all voiced their support for the project during Thursday’s event.
“I will do everything on my end to move this project forward,” state Rep. Kate Cloonen, D-Kankakee, said during the luncheon. “We excited to be a partner in this because we know how important it is for the future of Coal City.”