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Retooled Machines Bring New Green Jobs to Illinois

June 16, 2010 - 12:27pm

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Rockford, Illinois's Ingersoll Machine Tools is about to see some changes. Until recently, the company manufactured components for large, heavy construction equipment.

Now, with help from the State Energy Program, Ingersoll is retooling machinery to produce wind turbine components - and allow for nearly 90 green jobs to be created and an additional 60 to be retained.

The $5 million grant was awarded as part of Illinois' State Energy Plan, administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Illinois Energy Plan office aims to invest and develop the state's green economy, including renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and green buildings.

The Rockford facility -- built in 2005 -- is still considered "modern," said CEO Tino Oldani. In the past, the factory has manufactured large mechanical components for heavy equipment -- primarily construction equipment made to move large quantities of earth -- mining equipment, power generation and diesel engine frames.

"Our goal is to shift from that focus to a new industry that will keep many more jobs," Oldani said. "It's important for the American economy and our company to invest in green technology."

Ingersoll will manufacture the components in wind turbine towers, including parts for hubs, gear boxes, lower and upper frames and main bearing housings.

Oldani said that two major machines will be retooled and will begin production in late August or early September. Ingersoll also has plans to build an additional machine, and hopes the three machines will be running at full capacity by late October.

"We decided to convert and retool our machinery to the wind industry to facilitate the creation of jobs in the U.S.," said Oldani. "We wanted to continue manufacturing in the U.S. and could do so by using the green industry."

Editor's update: October 13, 2010 -- Ingersoll reports that the first machine was completed in July, while the second was scheduled for completion this fall.

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