Baking up jobs in Du Quoin
By: Arnold Wyrrick
DuQuoin, IL - When the General Henry Company decided to shutdown their cookie factory in Du Quoin last year, it sent hundreds of people home without a job. And it left the city with a huge factory geared only for baking.
But now city leaders don't have to worry any longer about what to do with the old plant. A new company Heartland Bakery LLC is reopening it. And hiring on people from throughout the region.
"We've got probably eight or nine hundred people unemployed in Perry County. And if you pick up 200, you've cut your unemployment rate by a fourth. So it's very important. Of course they'll employ people from other areas then just Du Quoin," says Mayor John Rednour.
Initially the company will bring in 50 plus workers to get things rolling. And news of the jobs is spreading throughout the community, almost as quickly as dough rises in an oven.
"I think it's great news. I'm glad to see it. We need some more economic development around the area. And hopefully it'll give a lot of people some good jobs," says Joyce Heston of Du Quoin.
Some local workers already have their foot in the door, so to speak.
"It's a good deal my neighbor works up there, or is going to work up there. He was real happy about it. It'll help Du Quoin and Southern Illinois, " says Norman Simon of Du Quoin.
The city had a lot to offer to the new owners. A finished building and equipment was already in place.
" I told him the machinery was here, the workforce was here. We had a good workforce. And we'd like to get them interested in it. He was going to go somewhere else to open the business, until we talked to him," says Dr. Jack Struck Economic Director for Du Quoin.
The State of Illinois is kicking in $800,000.00 to secure the deal, on the $1.2 million dollar investment, through the state's Opportunity Returns program.
The new owners Steve and Laura Scaff are already calling the Heartland home. They've purchased a home in the Carbondale area.