WILMINGTON – Gov. Bruce Rauner was present for the ribbon cutting for the opening of the new General Mills 1.5 million-square-foot distribution facility at RidgePort Logistics Center.
Rauner celebrated the ceremonial opening with local officials such as state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, state Rep. David Welter, R-Morris, and Wilmington Mayor Roy Strong, as well as representatives from General Mills and Elion Partners, which teamed up with Alston Construction to build the mixed-use industrial park.
“Why are we so strong [in Illinois]?” Rauner said. “Why are we the heart of transportational logistics? It’s because of our people ... we are also very blessed. We have incredible transportation infrastructure.”
The General Mills distribution facility will be officially open for business in January to ship products such as Cheerios cereal and Nature Valley granola bars. The RidgePort Logistics Center as a whole, when fully developed sometime between 2030 and 2035, will have created 13,000 direct jobs, not including secondary and tertiary jobs. The center’s developers praised Rauner for having a business mindset during his administration.
Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Rauner joined a small group of public officials on a tour around the entire perimeter of the RidgePort Logistics Center. Elion Partners managing director of development Michael Stellino acted as tour guide, pointing out the aspects of the center that make it a one-stop shop for transportation and logistics.
“It has industrial. We have offices, hotel, fire station, fitness center, everything to create sort of a mixed-use development,” Stellino said.
Stellino emphasized that having everything both the business and labor sides need to operate in one convenient area close to Interstate 55 makes it a very attractive area for companies. The tenants are attracted to the cost savings of their trucks and freight being able to stay in one place at a convenient location coming off the BNSF railroad or the highway.
Even for the truck drivers, there will be a number of amenities, including health care, food and even a chapel, things that will help improve the health and wellness of employees in the center. Elion Partners also said the center was good for the people of Wilmington as well because of the location essentially being away from the city so as not to bother the residents too much.
Rauner still advocated for less of a regulatory burden to help Illinois grow economically. But it was all praise for the development happening in Will County and the companies willing to invest in the area because of the advantages it provides.
“We are kicking tails in transportation and logistics,” Rauner said, “because we’ve got the people and all the attributes to boom.”