A brand new facility, that officials say will bring hundreds of jobs to the Stateline, officially opens on Monday. the AAR Corp is debuting two massive airplane hangars at the Chicago/Rockford International Airport (RFD) in the presence of several elected officials.
The two hangars look to draw in large-scale aircraft repair business to the Rockford area.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) says it’s an example of how Rockford can attract big corporations and good jobs. “Here’s a major international corporation that is stepping up and saying, ‘we’re investing in Rockford,'” he says. “This is a case [for] ‘if you build it, they will come.'”
AAR has, so far, hired 10 employees, but eventually wants to employ more than 500 workers, partnering with Rock Valley College to help with their staffing needs while growing the number of good, paying jobs, locally. Students who finish RVC’s two-year program will be eligible to work at the facility.
“So, this gives someone an opportunity to say, ‘look, you can make a great living, raise a family here in Rockford,'” says Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL 16th District). “And frankly, right when you get out of high school, go to Rock Valley College, learn this stuff and stick around.”
The project is not without hiccups. It was built with the help of 5 local banks and private investments so the hangars were able to be completed on schedule, without promised state funding. The State of Illinois originally planned on paying millions toward the facility, but with no current state budget and no funding, the AAR project is currently in debt. “[The debt is] growing everyday with the interest we’re paying, so I’d say $16 million plus,” says Airport Executive Director Mike Dunn.
Sen. Durbin wanting to see a state budget soon so business investments like this one won’t be held back. “We need the state to step up.” he says. “Our state’s legislators are committed to it, both political parties. Now we need the Governor to make the same commitment.”
AAR is ramping up their hiring now. Planes will start arriving for repairs in January.