Raflatac Opens New Plant in Dixon with Ribbon Cutting

topstory.jpgRaflatac putting stock in Dixon by opening new plant

Amid the whirring and buzzing of machines working at full capacity, hundreds turned out for Thursday’s grand opening of UPM Raflatac, where they nibbled on ahi tuna, sipped champagne and listened to a live band while touring the cutting-edge labelstock manufacturer.

About 250 of the Finnish-based company’s executives, business partners and suppliers Ñ representing half the countries of Europe and some in South America and Asia Ñ as well as employees and city officials attended the lavishly appointed event.

Raflatac President Heikki Pikkarainen, Jouko Lahepelto, senior vice president of the Americas, and Mayor Jim Burke spoke before the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Even though times are tough, over the years, I’m confident this will be successful to suppliers, customers and the local community,” Pikkarainen said, acknowledging the slumping U.S. economy.

Helsinki-based Raflatac actually stands to benefit from the weak U.S. dollar. The company was able to complete construction of the Dixon facility $9 million under its $109 million budget and ahead of schedule.

“This new factory is a great example of how U.S. manufacturing can compete in a global market,” Pikkarainen said.

Burke read a letter of congratulations from Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who wrote that Illinois now is the fifth-largest exporting state in the nation.

John Thompson, president of the Lee County Industrial Development Association, said the new company will provide great economic opportunity for the region.


Dixon landed the labelstock factory with the help of a $4.5 million grant from Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns program, administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The state gave Raflatac a business investment package that included 10 years of corporate income tax credits, based on job creation, plus money for employee training and a grant for infrastructure costs and site improvements. The company also is eligible for additional tax credits and exemptions because it is in an enterprise zone.

“The economic impact is comparable to a huge boulder being thrown into a placid lake,” Burke said, because of the construction and factory jobs created, building materials purchased, payroll dollars that go into the community and tax revenues.

The company began looking for a Midwest location in 2006, after completing its second coating line in Fletcher, N.C.; it wanted to create a “service-area triangle” with its distribution center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Pikkarainen said.

After considering numerous sites in five states, it narrowed its selection to four Illinois towns, and Dixon came out on top.

The logistics, operating environment and the local population’s down-to-earth demeanor “fits very well with our heritage and culture,” Pikkarainen said.

Lahepelto also touched on the company’s efforts to help with environmental sustainability. Raflatac’s production process uses less energy and environmentally friendly adhesives. Also, in an effort to minimize waste, the company has developed a wood-plastic composite from its self-adhesive waste that’s ideal for patio decks.

In fact, the floor and stage where the celebration took place was built of the new “ProFi” material, which the company plans to market.

Jim Miller, president of Joshua Label Co., of Perrysburg, Ohio, made the five-and-a-half hour drive to the event.

“I felt strongly enough about their presence in the market. I think they are positioned favorably to pick up a lot of business in this region,” Miller said.

Miller’s company only has four employees. “It’s very easy to do business with them, because they understand how to deal with a small producer,” he said.

Raflatac purchased 60 acres so it has room to expand if it chooses, Thompson said. Related vendors and suppliers also may choose to locate here.

Story by Sauk Valley News, Malinda Osborne at (815) 625-3600
or (800) 798-4085, ext. 526.

AGI Media Facility Expanding in Jacksonville Region


JACKSONVILLE, IL – Jacksonville Mayor Ron Tendick, Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation (JREDC) President Terry Denison, and AGI Media Plant Manager Matt Dickman are very happy to announce another expansion at the AGI Media facility.

AGI Media, a MeadWestvaco Company, is a leading global provider of media packaging and services. They supply the music, video, multimedia, software, electronic games, disk media promotions and gift card markets with unique packaging solutions. AGI produced projects have garnered numerous GRAMMY and ALEX nominations and awards for packaging excellence.

Currently underway, is a $3,000,000 investment in equipment, facility updates, renovations and improvements. This investment brings with it 55 – 65 NEW JOBS! Applications for experienced printing press operators, bindery operators and other manufacturing positions are already being accepted. Presently, at the Jacksonville facility, AGI’s employment average is 157 – full time and seasonal employees.

Enterprise Zone benefits are helping make this project possible. AGI Media Plant Manager, Matt Dickman, said “We want to say thanks to our partners, the JREDC and the City of Jacksonville, who have been very helpful with this expansion project. I also want to compliment and thank the employees here at our AGI plant. Their hard work, ingenuity and loyalty have helped make this expansion possible. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.”

Terry Denison, JREDC President, said “This is a great example of what we have said many times before – most of a community’s economic growth comes from its existing industries.”

Denison also noted that “Good employees make a company. Companies stay and grow where they have a good work force, where they are appreciated and where their cost of doing business is reasonable. We think that the Morgan and Scott County region is that kind of community.”

New Development Projects in Rock Island, IL


The combination of Enterprise Zone sales tax deduction on building materials and tax increment financing incentives have encouraged developers to create 150 new rental and owner-occupied housing units in Downtown Rock Island. Projects range from a four-unit upper floor build-out above a restaurant to a 35-unit warehouse renovation.


Rock Island created the Downtown loft housing program, encouraging the use of vacant spaces above first floor commercial, to improve the appearance of upper floors and increase the viability of Downtown commercial space. Projects include market rate apartments, rental units with income eligibility requirements and a three-story condominium development with commercial units on the ground floor.


To date, $16.5 million has been invested in the partial or complete renovation of 10 Downtown buildings.

Enterprise Zone incentives were used to build 52 units of loft housing in vacant upper floors of the Renaissance and Goldman buildings in downtown Rock Island.

Projects Underway in Illinois Valley Region

Here is a rundown of some of the EZ development projects currently happening in the Illinois Valley Region.


LKCS (formerly LetterKraft Printers/Creative Services) are operational in their new 59,000 square foot, state of the art facility in Peru. The entire building is heated and cooled by geo-thermal, making it one of the most energy efficient buildings in Illinois. LKCS is located in the Illinois Valley Enterprise Zone.


Construction is progressing on a new 65,000 square foot (Phase I and II) manufacturing facility in Oglesby, IL. Wire Mesh Corporation, a Mexico City based manufacturer of welded wire fabric used in the production of concrete slabs, plans to initially employ 20. When all phases have been completed, an additional 80 jobs will be provided. Location, electric rates, enterprise zone benefits, and tax increment financing played a major role in the decision to locate in Oglesby.


Oglesby has another new addition. Illinois Valley Community Hospital of Peru (IVCH) is constructing a 2,800 square foot medical building which is expected to be completed by spring 2007. This clinic will allow IVCH to bring new physicians to the community.


Loves Travel Stop is nearing completion at the Utica exit from I-80 in LaSalle County. The building will also include a McDonald’s and Subway, as well as the usual amenities.

UPM Raflatac to Bring Hi-Tech MFG Plant To Dixon, IL


UPM Raflatac , Inc. has purchased a 62-acre site at I-88 and Illinois Route 26, at Dixon adjacent to the Lee County Business Park and has begun construction of a new pressure sensitive labelstock factory. Project completion is scheduled for first quarter 2008 with an estimated investment value of $109 million.

Dixon facilities will join Raflatac’s other North American operations in Fletcher, NC; Wilkes-Barre, PA; and Ontario, CA. Raflatac has around 2,300 total employees and has indicated they will employ 160+ employees. Ultimate facility designs are being completed by O’Neal, Inc, Greenville, SC and are expected to be in excess of 200,000 SF. The site selection process was conducted through Deloitte Consulting, LLP, Chicago.

Lee County Industrial Development Association (LCIDA) coordinated efforts to secure Raflatac’s commitment to the Dixon and State of Illinois site choice and is proud to have brought this massive investment in process manufacturing by a European-based company to our region of Illinois.

Construction management is through Marathon/Architects/Engineers/Planners, LLC, an Appleton (WI)-based member of the Jaako-Poyry Group, specialists in paper processes.

Raflatac is part of UPM, one of the world’s leading producers of printing papers. The UPM Group’s sales for 2005 were EUR 9.3 billion, and it has over 31,000 employees with production in 15 countries. UPM’s main markets are Europe and North America.

Wal-Mart DC Rising in Whiteside County


Development to result in 700 new good-paying jobs with benefits.

As a result of cooperative efforts, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is almost finished with the construction of the warehouse/distribution center in Whiteside County.

This project has entailed the construction of a state-of-the-art, $62M, 900,000 square foot facility that will provide quality jobs for more than 700 full time employees. This summer more than 40 management positions were filled to start coordination of the hiring and start up of the distribution center.

While some of the management team have already moved to Whiteside County many will not move until the first of the year. Many of these individuals are coming from all over the United States, but some are local employees who will be moving into management positions. Last month while here for training the management team spent a Friday working on local projects, such as at the Morrison Day Care Center on the playground and equipment. They also helped with fixing a roof on a home in the Sterling area. They don’t even live here yet and they are out working on community projects.

Applications are now being excepted and hiring will start very soon for the more than seven hundred (700) hundred positions. The facility will be open for business in April 2006. Advertised wages at the distribution center will start at $13/hr. for warehouse positions, maintenance supervisor at $16/hr., and maintenance technicians at $16/hr. with 50-cent incremental raises every three months. These jobs will also provide a benefit package that includes: comprehensive medical/ dental plan, 401K plan, company profit sharing, and life insurance, just to mention a few.

The impact of the location of the Wal-Mart Distribution to Whiteside County will not only create an estimated $110.2M increased annual economic activity, but will also provide the value of the employees in volunteering for our communities not to mention the contributions that will be added to our non for profit organizations by contributions from Wal-Mart.

Enterprise Zone to Help Keep the Lights On

On August 14, 2003 at 4:11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Ontario, Canada and much of the Northeastern United States were hit by the largest blackout in North American history. Fifty million people lost their electricity, and darkness covered an area from New York to Toronto to Ohio. Lights went out, subways ground to a halt, refrigeration shut down and business stopped cold in its tracks. Days passed slowly before some electricity consumers had power restored. Could that happen here? What would you or your businesses do if this happened? These are really important questions.


The Lee County Enterprise Zone (LCEZ) in northwest Illinois is helping to make sure that an outage like 2003’s will never happen to us in the Midwest. Duke Energy will be adding “dark start” capability to their Lee County facility using Caterpillar diesel generators. In 2001 Duke Energy completed an 8-unit peak generating power plant in Nachusa, Illinois near Dixon in the LCEZ. At the time, Duke saw the Illinois Enterprise Zone Program as a very important incentive tool to enable them to make the $218 million investment in the facility. Today, as part of a new contract to provide “dark start” capability to ComEd, Duke is again investing in the LCEZ.


On or before January 1, 2005 Duke will have installed at its Lee County Generating Station three new 1.4-megawatt diesel generators capable of starting one of the Duke peaker units if the grid should experience a blackout. Like most power plants today, these facilities make electricity but also need electricity from an outside source to enable them to start up. It is a kind of Catch-22, and with this new “dark start” capability the Duke peakers will be stand-alone and can start each other.

The sequence would go something like this:

  • Upon experiencing a blackout situation, Duke would be critical to ComEd’s Restoration Plan and would fire up the CAT diesels, generating enough power to start one of the 80-megawatt peaker units.
  • That unit can then provide power to start the other seven units on site, bringing 640-megawatts of total power back on line.
  • This will begin to restore grid stability and provide power for early restoration, as load would demand.
  • Lee County Station power would feed the grid to handle critical loads, help restart other generating assets and balance the overall load and stability on the Midwest grid itself.

Duke will invest $2.6 million in the stand-alone Caterpillar Diesel Generator Dark Start Project. The weather-protected units will be installed on concrete pads adjacent to Unit # 1. Duke is pleased to use Caterpillar units for this project. CAT itself is a big user of Illinois’ Enterprise Zone programs so it is good to see their product as part of the Lee County project. Equipment is scheduled for delivery on site by October 15 with complete installation and operational capability by January 1, 2005.

Thanks to Jim Cumbow, Superintendent of O&M and Kate Perez of Public Affairs for Duke Energy, the United States Air Force and CBC News for source material contributing to this article and for photos. For more information contact John Thompson, Lee County Enterprise Zone Administrator at 815-284-3361 or dchamber@essex1.com.


Rayovac to open 570,000 SF Packaging and DC in Dixon, IL


The Lee County Enterprise Zone in Dixon recently announced a high-profile project that had been kept under wraps as the highly secretive “Project Kodiak” for many months. It was revealed by Zone Administrator and President of Lee County Industrial Development Association (LCIDA) John Thompson that the facility was in fact going to be a new 576,000 square foot (expandable to 800,000 SF) packaging and distribution center for the Rayovac Corporation of Madison, Wisconsin.

Thompson made the announcement along with Dixon Mayor James Burke timed just after Rayovac made the project known to its own employees and stockholders. Rayovac had been working for well over a year to develop the Dixon project as part of its new global strategies that included purchase of the German battery company Varta. With the Varta acquisition, Rayovac is one of the world’s leading battery and lighting device companies with revenues over $1 billion. Rayovac products are sold in over 115 countries.

The new $20 million distribution and packaging center complex is located in the Lee County Business Park owned by LCIDA and contained in the Lee County Enterprise Zone. Construction began last June and Rayovac anticipates full operation later into 2003. The facility consolidates distribution and packaging operations currently being handled at several Rayovac facilities and outside suppliers. A total of 300 employees are expected to work in the complex when the ramp-up is complete.

Higgins Development Partnership of Chicago is the real estate developer for the building complex and Mc Shane Construction, one of the Mc Shane Companies, is the contractor for the building that covers 18 acres, including truck aprons, of the 55-acre site.

Dixon was chosen after an in-depth study encompassing an evaluation of alternate solutions to eliminate current inefficient multi-location operations and to best serve the Company’s ever growing customer base. The site search stretched throughout the mid-central and mid-east portions of the United States. The Facility and Location Strategy Implementation Department of Chicago-based Deloitte & Touche acted as consultants for Rayovac.

“This new centralized packaging and distribution center is expected to result in significant annual savings in freight, inventory and operating costs,” said Dave Jones, Rayovac Chairman and CEO.

Locating the new complex in Dixon near the new $200 million-plus Union Pacific Railroad intermodal (also in the Lee County Enterprise Zone) being built in nearby Rochelle, will allow Rayovac to better serve its entire U.S. customer base while significantly reducing freight costs. The centralization will also reduce inventory levels necessary in Rayovac’s current multi-location architecture.

“Successful companies understand the importance of having easy access to their markets. Illinois has long been known as the nation’s transportation hub, and the siting of this project in Dixon further bolsters that claim,” said Illinois Governor George H. Ryan. “Initiatives like Illinois FIRST have infused a significant amount of resources into upgrading the state’s infrastructure in order for us to maintain this leadership role in the way goods are distributed across the country.”

The Dixon facility will serve as Rayovac’s main packaging facility for its products and will be the company’s largest distribution center in North America. Rayovac also operates distribution centers in Fresno, CA, La Vergne, TN, and Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Rayovac is eligible to receive benefits through the Illinois Enterprise Zone Program due to its location in the Lee County Zone at Dixon. Rayovac is also eligible to receive EDGE tax credits administered through DCCA.

The Rayovac announcement was very well received in Dixon, Lee County, throughout the region and across Illinois. “We are thrilled to have a household name such as Rayovac here,” said Dixon Mayor Jim G. Burke. “The facility will provide quality jobs to hundreds of our citizens and it doesn’t get any better than that.”

“LCIDA worked had for over a year to site this project. We got strong support from the State of Illinois,” said John Thompson. “DCCA’s Pam McDonough, Dennis Pescitelli, Craig Coil, Tom Henderson, Mark Gauss, Dave Goben and Dennis Gorss were especially helpful along with the City of Dixon and its Mayor Burke, Finance Commissioner Bridgeman, the City Council and department heads,” Thompson concluded.

The Rayovac facility is clearly visible in Rayovac’s new blue, black and gray corporate colors at the Dixon interchange of I-88 and Illinois Route 26. Rayovac plans a major opening celebration and open house at the end of March.