Navistar Makes It Official, HQ And More Consolidating in Chicago Area

By Peter Ambrose
By Jeff Neumeyer

September 8, 2010 Updated Sep 8, 2010 at 6:40 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - -A huge consolidation of Navistar business lands in Lisle Illinois, leaving Fort Wayne to wonder what its role in the company's future will be.

It's really no surprise that the Chicago suburb won the Navistar sweepstakes.

It's likely the decision would have been announced months ago, if not for the fact a group of Lisle residents put up a fuss about air quality problems associated with Navistar's diesel testing facility.

But company officials on Wednesday said that hurdle was cleared, in large part, because Illinois Governor Pat Quinn intervened to put those residents' concerns to rest.

Navistar CEO Dan Ustian announced more than $200-million worth of investment is coming to Northern Illinois, including a world headquarters, a technology center and new parts facility.

There’s no official word about the job impact of this move for Fort Wayne's 1,100 plus workers at the Meyer Road Engineering and Technology Center, but Ustian’s words about the consolidation don’t offer much encouragement to Fort Wayne.

Dan Ustian/Navistar CEO: " It's bringing all the design work, all the ancillary, administrative, office work, financial stuff, we're going to bring into here, everything is coming into one place."

Mayor Tom Henry/(D) Fort Wayne: " It's like a rollercoaster and I know more than me personally, the employees of Navistar who are located in Fort Wayne, must be going through a tremendous amount of stress right now, trying to figure out whether Navistar is going to keep them on their payroll."

Tom Burkholder, President of Union Local 2911, which represents about 300 engineers and designers in Fort Wayne, says local employees were given around a twenty minute presentation on Navistar’s announcement in Illinois.

No questions were taken, and they were apparently told they'd get more information about jobs moving to Illinois in six to eight weeks.

Burkholder has indicated in the past, the threats of moving jobs out of Fort Wayne may have been aimed at giving management an advantage in contract negotiations.

But on Wednesday, he admitted the purchase of buildings in the Chicago area undoubtedly would result in jobs moving.

He says time will tell how many jobs will move and how fast.

City officials have been working to convince local Navistar workers to remain in the area. WorkOne Northeast is applying for a federal grant that would be used to train employees for other jobs here locally. The agency has also set up a scholarship fund for job training.

Mayor Tom Henry has also said he's working with Navistar to keep their test track in the city.

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