Lion Electric outlook: 1,400 jobs

Joliet City Council committee considers tax incentives on Tuesday for future electric vehicle factory

The Lion Electric Company will commit to hiring more than 1,400 workers at its future Joliet plant in exchange for a property tax abatement that will go before local taxing bodies for consideration starting Tuesday.

The projection doubles the company’s commitment to hire more than 700 workers to meet a three-year target set for a state incentive package.

Lion Electric, which makes electric trucks and buses, plans to hire 745 workers by the third year of production at the Joliet plant and 1,418 workers by Year 4, according to the tax incentive package.

The Joliet City Council Economic Development Committee will meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday and consider the proposal to abate half the property taxes for the Lion Electric plant for five years. The same proposal will be presented to three other taxing bodies: Will County, Troy School District 30-C and Minooka High School District 111.

Lion Electric executives have said the plant could employ 1,400 workers.

Putting the number into the abatement program sets a target that needs to be reached to continue receiving the incentive, Joliet Economic Development Director Derek Conley said Friday.

“They made representations to us that they intend to hire 1,400 and that is tied to the incentive package,” Conley said.

Lion Electric plans to begin production at the plant in late 2022.

The incentive package includes targets of 324 workers in the first year of operation, 372 in Year 2, 745 in Year 3 and 1,418 by Year 4.

The Canadian-based company now employs about 500 workers and has one production plant in Montreal.

Lion Electric announced its plans for a Joliet plant in May as it began to sell public stock in the company for what it expects to be rapid growth in the U.S. market for electric trucks and buses.

“They’re making a huge investment in their future and the future of this market,” said Doug Pryor, vice president for economic development for the Will County Center for Economic Development. “I think what they’re betting on is the move to electrification.”

The company plans to invest $120 million in the Joliet plant under construction at 3835 Youngs Road in Clarius Park.

Conley said Lion Electric probably will begin moving production equipment and machinery into the plant later this year.

The Joliet property, which Lion Electric will lease, is expected to produce about $1 million in property tax revenue a year before the abatements are applied. Only that portion of the taxes going to the four taxing bodies would be abated.

Joliet and other Will County communities have provided the same 50% abatement program for other industrial projects, although the number of years allowed has varied, with five years being the maximum.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News