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.

Updated Fall Conference News

IEZA Fall Conference Presenter James Mathes of Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will be available to speak with you one-on-one at the IEZA Fall Conference, on how the Enterprise Zone Abatement affects your school’s state aid funding.

This is your chance to meet with Jim in a private environment at the conference and ask the questions you may have and to review how your school district state aid formula works. See how in many cases your school benefits not only from the new jobs and investment but also through the state aid formula for school districts who participate in the abatement process.

Jim will be available on Thursday, Sept. 27 from 10:30-11:00 am and on Friday, Sept. 28 from 9:00-11:00 am. You do not have to have an appointment but it is suggested. Please email Betty Steinert at bsteinert@whiteside.org with your preferred date and time. For more information on the conference please check out events on this web page.

AGENDA for 2007 Fall Conference

The IEZA has just released the agenda for the 2007 Annual Fall Conference being held September 26-28 at Rend Lake Resort and Conference Center in Whittington, Illinois.

A block of rooms will be held until September 10, 2007. For room reservations, call 800-633-3341 and you are requested to indicate that you are with the IEZA!

The following is the agenda for the conference. Changes will be posted at this site. At the bottom of this article are the PDFs of this agenda and of a Map of the Rend Lake area that you can print out for your convenience.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

  • 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Evening Reception
    Rend Lake Resort at the "Deck" (heavy hors d'oeuvre & drinks)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

  • 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast
    provided by Rend Lake Resort
  • 8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Registration
  • 9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Welcome / Opening
    Remarks by the Honorable Senator John O. Jones, 54th District
  • 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. "Enterprise Zone Abatement Affects on School State Aid"
    By James Mathes, ISBE
    • One-on-one consultation in adjoining board room following this session and on Friday morning.
  • 10:30 a.m. – 10:45 BREAK
  • 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. "Man-Tra-Con"
    workforce programs
  • Noon – 1:30 p.m. LUNCH
    Speaker: Brittany Bielecki, Walgreens – "How Enterprise Zone Benefits have Encouraged Growth for Walgreens"
  • 1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. BREAK
    Walgreens' Distribution Center (Mt. Vernon) and Pheasant Hollow Winery
  • 1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Travel to Mt. Vernon
  • 2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Tour of Walgreens' Distribution Center
  • 3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tour of Pheasant Hollow Winery, Whittington
  • 5:00 p.m. Return to hotel
  • 6:30 p.m. BBQ Dinner
    (shelter #4)

Friday, September 28, 2007

  • 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast
    provided by Rend Lake Resort
  • 9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. "Enterprise Zone Application Review"
    By John Thompson, Betty Steinert, and Sally Heffernan
  • 9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Ask the Experts / Questions & Concerns Panel Discussion
    Panel Members: Betty Steinert, John Thompson, Sally Heffernan, & JoEllen Seil
  • 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. "Legislative Report and Discussion"
    By John Thompson, Lee County Enterprise Zone Administrator
  • 11:00 a.m. – Noon IEZA Annual Meeting
    Vote on President, Vice President, and Treasurer

pdf 2007 Fall Conference Agenda 335.63 Kb

pdf Franklin County FUN Trail and Map 191.24 Kb

2007 Fall Conference Date Announced

thumb_news-rend-lake-hotel.jpgMark you calendars s the IEZA Fall Conference will be held on September 26-28, 2007 at the Rend Lake Resort, nestled in the Wayne Fitzgerald Sate Park in Whittington, Illnois.

This area is set along the water and offers the perfect setting for our fall conference. The complex and facilities can be viewed by visiting their website www.rendlakeresort.com. More details on the Fall Conference will follow.

ADDED BONUS! Pheasant Hollow Winery www.pheasanthollowwinery.com is having their fall wine tasting event September 29-30, 2007, located about 1 mile east of the resort on Rte. 37.

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.