Changing Workforce

Around Chicago, manufacturing jobs are on the rebound - but not where you'd think

By Crain's Chicago Business

Sep 27, 2017

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CEO Jim Fitzgerald says "curb appeal" partly drew his company to Lake County, and there's no question contract manufacturer Flexan has lots in common with the neighbors.

Started in 1946 by three brothers who made rubber sanding pads for Sears, Flexan generates more than $50 million annually making silicone components for medical devices like pacemakers and defibrillators. It employs some 740 workers spread among facilities in Chicago, Utah, China, Elk Grove Village and its new Lincolnshire plant, which became Flexan's headquarters in April. The company will close the Elk Grove Village factory in Cook County next year.

At a time when President Donald Trump touts manufacturing as the key to creating middle-class jobs, statistics illustrate how deeply it matters not just whether a region or municipality makes goods, but what it makes. Peoria County, former hometown to heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar, lost 40 percent of its manufacturing jobs between 2006 and 2016 as the company's sales followed commodity prices south.​

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