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Robert Anderson, president of McLaughlin Body Company, right, leads a tour of the company's Rock Island plant Wednesday. Walking with Anderson are Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms and state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island.

McLaughlin Body Co. announced Wednesday that it will be consolidating its manufacturing operations into the former International Harvester Farmall Works in Rock Island.

Partnerships and a diligent effort led the consolidation effort. It also helped keep the company, which has been around since 1906, in the Quad-Cities.

Making the move possible was a partnership formed with Central States Development Partners, Inc., a Rock Island-based national community development entity that provided access to the federal New Market Tax Credit program.

The program provides access to low interest loans and financial incentives for the purchase and redevelopment of older manufacturing sites.

The tax increment financing investment with the city of Rock Island also played a major role, said Robert Anderson, president of McLaughlin Body.

Currently 175 people work at the site; 50 more are expected to be added eventually.

The $10.3 million long-term investment strategically aligns with the $54 million in new investment in the Columbia Park (Rock Island) area since 2014, a Central States release noted.

The whole process began about 18 months ago, Anderson said, when the parties began talking. The closing of McLaughlin's East Moline plant last summer and the consolidating of those jobs into the 525,000-square-foot Farmall Works facility is part of the move.

The plant is about one-fourth of what Farmall used to be, Anderson said. The rest of the plant is now greenspace, he said.

"I really think it’s a great day for McLaughlin, but also for the city of Rock Island because I think this is really showing our commitment to the area," Anderson said.

“If you went up and down this river, it used to be full of manufacturing," he said. "There’s not much left. We want to stay here. We are committed to the Quad-Cities and the city of Rock Island.

"We have actually been here (Rock Island) for a number of decades, and we have been leasing," Anderson said. "We really made the decision to purchase for a commitment to stay here. But we also looked for some partnerships to allow us to be able to do that."

McLaughlin Body’s main product is cabin closures for off-highway equipment. Among those are cabs for John Deere combines, made by McLaughlin Body since 1959. The company also makes enclosed cabs for some equipment for Caterpillar, Case New Holland and others, Anderson said.

Its primary markets include agriculture, construction, defense and mining work. The company also does metal fabrication and helps the companies it supplies with solutions for any problems that might arise for them.

Farmall Works has been closed since 1986 after a 60-year run. It once sprawled out over 1.9 million square feet on the edge of Rock Island near the Mississippi River.

"We are purchasing everything on the west end of this facility," Anderson said. "Today we are keeping business in Illinois. We are here to stay."

The company’s original site in Moline is now the home of its administrative offices. The company also owns a facility in South Carolina; its old East Moline facility is for sale.

In many ways, Central States Development Partners was a facilitator of the project, due to its certification with the Treasury Department and its expertise.

"The short version of this is we want the residents of Illinois to know that manufacturing is alive, and it is well and it’s growing in our community," said Brian Hollenback, president and CEO of Central States Development Partners. "And that we are positioned to be able to access all of the resources that are required through this public/private partnership they have with the city of Rock Island to get things done."

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Night City Editor