A new move by Navistar could create thousands of manufacturing jobs in Illinois, but the company is hesitant to set up shop.
Navistar International Corp. has decided to scrap plans for a new corporate headquarters in west suburban Lisle, saying local opposition to the project is “jeopardizing our image.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, the truck and engine manufacturer’s decision prompted Gov. Pat Quinn to speak with Navistar CEO Daniel Ustian on Wednesday in an effort to save thousands of potential jobs from leaving Illinois.
Navistar officials, who planned to invest $100 million in the new campus, had said the move would have generated and preserved more than 7,000 direct and indirect jobs for Lisle and pumped $4.5 million annually into the local economy. The company had hoped to consolidate several of its outlying offices at the Lisle site. Navistar officials say they now will look at establishing its headquarters at previously explored locations in Alabama, Texas and South Carolina.
Neighbors opposed the Lisle development in part because of worries about air pollution, noise, traffic and safety issues at the former Alcatel-Lucent site, 2600 Warrenville Rd. Navistar, now based about three miles away in Warrenville, has maintained that those fears are unfounded.
In a letter dated Tuesday to Lisle Mayor Joseph Broda, Ustian said opponents were “jeopardizing our image and that of many innocent people who have advocated for us.
“We cannot in good conscience allow our supporters to be put on trial or their name jeopardized in the name of this project,” he added.
Quinn spoke with Ustian “to reiterate that the jobs and investment that Navistar wants to bring to Illinois are incredibly important, and that he will continue talking with the company and Lisle to see how we can make this a reality,” Quinn spokeswoman Ashley Cross said.
Navistar appeased some opponents, including a nearby school for autistic children, by scaling back plans for engine testing at the site, but some residents remained wary.
Broda, who said he was “deeply disappointed” by Navistar’s decision, said the company’s revised plan had “erased the concerns of all but a few people.”
Navistar decided to walk away from the project in part because an opponent recently filed a lawsuit and issued about two dozen subpoenas, many of which “had nothing to do with the zoning process,” said Don Sharp, Navistar’s vice president and chief information officer.