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A fine week for local manufacturing

Three local manufacturers announced this week that they plan to hire more workers. That’s a positive sign for the economy and our communities.

Published: Saturday, April 19, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

What a fine week it was for manufacturing in the Sauk Valley.

Thursday’s paper carried the story about Wahl Clipper Corp.’s plans to build a new $8.5 million, 40,000-square-foot corporate headquarters on its Sterling campus.

The announcement means that Wahl Clipper will retain the 114 workers at its corporate headquarters in Sterling and create at least five new jobs.

Iowa had wooed Wahl with the possibility that the corporate office could move to Bettendorf. However, because of the state’s Economic Development for a Growing Economy program, Wahl qualifies for an Illinois tax credit to stay put and expand where it is.

Wahl’s new corporate headquarters will help this innovative international corporation operate even more efficiently.

The company, which began as an electric hair clipper maker in 1919 and has expanded to a variety of home and professional styling products and animal grooming products, employs nearly 900 people in Sterling and about 2,000 worldwide.

Wahl’s good news followed a story in Wednesday’s paper about plans by Woods Equipment Co. of Oregon, which employs 300 people, to add 23 more jobs to the factory.

Woods manufactures tractor and self-powered tools for the agricultural, turf and grounds, and construction markets.

Woods also announced it recently added a laser-cutting system, the “biggest investment in 20 years,” the company’s chief financial officer said. The new technology will improve the plant’s accuracy and efficiency.

In the Business section of today’s paper, a story tells about how Sewer Equipment Co. of America, which moved to Dixon in 2012, plans to add 10 more workers – six assembly workers, a couple of welders, and a couple of painters – to its 100-person workforce.

The company, which makes sewer and drain-cleaning equipment, vacuum trucks and trailers, previously added 30 workers since its move to Dixon from Chadwick.

Sewer Equipment Co. traditionally served municipalities, but 5 to 8 years ago, its leaders decided to expand into the industrial and plumbing sectors. That decision, plus the overall improving economy, has fueled its growth.

If that weren’t enough good news, the Career Fair at Sauk Valley Community College reported greater participation this year: 40 employers, vs. 27 last year.

Of those 40 employers, about 90 percent are hiring, according to a Career Fair organizer.

Making major investments in bricks, mortar, equipment, and employees is a sign that these businesses are confident in the future and eager to embrace it.

And that is good news for our region.

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