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By DAVE HINTON
Rantoul Press editor
Since a mid-August groundbreaking ceremony, work at the site of the new Easton-Bell plant had consisted largely of site preparation.
Travelers on Interstate 57 and U.S. 136 started seeing more tangible proof that the 815,000-square-foot distribution, assembly and shared services center was progressing last week when the walls began going up.
Semi trailer trucks brought in concrete panels, which were raised by a crane and put in place.
The center is being built west of I-57, just off Evans Road along U.S. 136, across the street from the Jeld-Wen plant in Rantoul’s industrial park.
Easton-Bell employs 300 people at facilities east of Rantoul and in hangar 1 on the former Chanute Air Force Base. All of those employees will be retained.
Late 2013 has been targeted for project completion.
The state’s targeted investment package, which is estimated at $3.4 million, includes Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credits, which are based on jobs and distributed over 10 years, and a training grant through the Employer Training Investment Program.
The village of Rantoul has taken several steps to lure the facility, including expansion of its enterprise zone by 163 acres and creation of a tax increment financing district. The enterprise zone will exempt the company from any sales tax on all the building materials that will be used in the facility.
The process of selecting the site reportedly took two years. Rantoul beat out Texas for the plant.