City Manager: ‘Project Jackpot’ likely to announce in November

Business said to invest over $130 million, add 150 jobs

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ROCHELLE — Rochelle City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said Friday, Aug. 20 that he’s currently hearing that Project Jackpot will announce its intention to open a Rochelle location in November. 

The still-anonymous business, which has purchased the former Nippon Sharyo buildings, is said to be making a capital investment of over $130 million and adding 150 jobs that pay an average of $52,000 per year before benefits to the area. 

Fiegenschuh said he had previously been hopeful that Project Jackpot would have announced by now. Despite delays, he said he’s “99.999 percent” confident that the company is coming to Rochelle.

"They kind of keep pushing it back,” Fiegenschuh said. “They're coming. If you go out there, you'll see they're taking out concrete floors and putting in new floors. They're doing all kinds of work inside. They are coming out of Chicago and I can only tell you there's issues with, they don't want to announce because they haven't told their employees. That's all I can tell you. Everybody keeps asking when they're going to announce. When they're good and ready. Right now we're hearing probably in November."

The Lee-Ogle Enterprise zone was amended by the Rochelle City Council and other area members to attract Project Jackpot by adding 10 years of 50 percent abatement, creating a category for companies that make an investment of $100 million or more plus adding at least 125 new jobs and a pay rate of $50,000 or more before benefits and maintaining 95 percent employees. There are a total of 12 years of abatement for Project Jackpot’s west building. The east building won’t be abated at all. 

The city also reached a development agreement with Project Jackpot. 

"Everything is done,” Fiegenschuh said. “They're spending money updating the substation portion. They're coming, they just haven't publicly announced who they are yet. I think there's things going on behind the scenes at their current plant and they're not ready to announce because it could cause them some labor issues or other things there.” 

Fiegenschuh said the city has invested a “significant” amount in attracting Project Jackpot in terms of incentive dollars and staff hours. Infrastructure like the current substation project going on next to the Project Jackpot site has also been put into place. 

“I wouldn't have gone to my mayor and council and said we should make this investment if [Economic Development Director Jason Anderson] and I weren't confident they're coming,” Fiegenschuh said.

High-paying jobs top Fiegenschuh’s list of why he wants Project Jackpot in town. The business will be a top-10 Rochelle Municipal Utilities wastewater and water user and its top electric user. He said that will keep electric rates stable for residents. 

“I think it's going to be great for the community and the investment we're making will be paid off in less than eight years based on their usage,” Fiegenschuh said. “It could be paid off within six. They could potentially add 40 percent load onto our system. The amount of power they're going to use was the same amount the whole town of Princeton used when I was city manager there. It's a significant power user and we're happy they're here."

Fiegenschuh sees an opportunity in the future to potentially work with Project Jackpot to put some solar panels on its property as the city may look to expand its green energy portfolio. 

Talks between Project Jackpot and the city began in late 2019 following the company’s purchase of the Nippon Sharyo buildings. Fiegenschuh hopes all the work done since will come to fruition soon and the public will get the answers it’s been looking for. 

“The economic impact, when they come out of the enterprise zone, the amount of property taxes they're going to be paying,” Fiegenschuh said. “This is a big win for Rochelle and I know people are kind of impatient about it. We're not trying to be secretive. We're legally bound by nondisclosure agreements. They have their reasons.”