Locals react to Nippon Sharyo plant closing

ROCHELLE - Closing for good. By the end of August, Nippon Sharyo will be shutting down their plant in Rochelle. Since 2015, the Japanese company has shrunk its workforce due to a decreased workload.

"They sat down with us about a month ago and told us that their board had made a decision to close the facility," said Rochelle City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh. "[They told us] they were going to be working with a broker to market and sell the facility as one site."

Last year, Nippon Sharyo lost a major contract after failing to deliver 130 bi-level Amtrak passenger cars for Illinois and California.

In a statement, the company says it was a huge blow:

"Ultimately, the complexity of the project prevented Nippon Sharyo from successful completion of this project. This result brought significant losses, which severely impaired our financial conditions."

"We're sad anytime we lose a business," said Fiegenschuh. "I mean that costs jobs, it just has an impact on the overall community."

One business already feeling that impact is Flight Deck Bar and Grill. Employees say because of their location, they used to see more customers when the plant was in production.

"They'd come get some drinks, I'd just be slammed," said Flight Deck Bar and Grill bartender Hannah Elliot. "They'd be drinking and having a good time just about every single Friday after work."

Now, those regulars are gone. Bar manager Ashley Bick hopes to see that business return.

"I just really hope somebody else comes in and we get that same kind of impact that we had when they first opened," said Bick. "It really boosted up the city of Rochelle and brought all these extra people here."

City leaders agree. Fiegenschuh says Nippon Sharyo has expressed their wish to sell to another manufacturing company.

"Obviously we'd like to see the site filled," said Fiegenschuh. "But, we want to make sure it's a good use for what we want to see for the future of our community."

In the months ahead, Nippon Sharyo says it will be preparing a sale of the factory and its assets.

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