Continental Tire to invest $78-million in Southern Illinois

Continental Tire to invest $78-million in Southern Illinois
By: Carly O'keefe
MT. VERNON, Il. -- Continental Tire North America employs 2,200 people in Jefferson County. It's already the largest employer in Southern Illinois, but with the announcement of a $78-million investment into its Mount Vernon manufacturing facility, it'll soon offer even more jobs.
"Initially it'll be around 100 construction jobs. The actual number of employees hired at the end of the project is yet to be determined," said Floyd Brookman, Executive Director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.
Continental Tire officials announced Friday the company plans to expand the current Mt. Vernon plant by 150,000 square feet and invest in new state-of-the-art tire building and storage equipment.
"That means 90 percent of truck tires sold in the United States with the Continental branding will be made here in Mt. Vernon, Illinois," said Brookman.
Mary Ellen Bechtel is the Executive Director of the Jefferson County Development Corporation, and says the impact of the expansion will be felt way beyond Jefferson County.
"I think we have 20 communities with 20 or more employees at Continental Tire, so it affects all of us. We're just thrilled to have this commitment from Continental Tire," said Bechtel.
It's that commitment that Bechtel says is really exciting. While many other companies have moved manufacturing jobs outside the Heartland and outside U.S., Continental Tire is investing in southern Illinois.
"We are very excited that Continental Tire has come out ahead of the rest and proven that manufacturing can be viable in the United States. That's not just a statement for Mt. Vernon or Jefferson County, but the nation. We were chosen out of all the other sites in the world they could have gone to," Bechtel Said.
Continental Tire employees and local folks are just happy to know more jobs are on the way.
"It's really good for everybody here, it'll be a real positive thing for this area," said Continental Tire employee Richard Livingston.
"All those jobs will be great, maybe some of the people who were laid off at Maytag and Technicolor Universal can come here and find a job," said Mt. Vernon resident Kathy Hasenfang.
Construction on the new expansion is slated to start immediately. It is expected to be up and running by the end of 2008.