Lion Electric job plans for Joliet detailed

The company plans to begin production of electric buses and trucks in Joliet by late 2022

The Lion Electric Company plans to begin taking applications before the end of this year at its future Joliet plant, where the company plans to employ 1,400 workers by 2026.

“We’re looking forward to getting as many applications as we can as quickly as we can,” Lion Electric Chief Legal Officer Francois Duquette told the Joliet City Council Economic Development Committee on Tuesday.

The committee approved a tax incentive package that is tied to to Lion Electric employing 1,418 workers by its fourth year of operation.

The company plans to begin production of electric buses and trucks in Joliet by late 2022.

Duquette after the meeting said the company is still working on its hiring plans for the Joliet plant. But when asked when the company would start taking applications, he said, “I would expect it to be before the end of this year.”

Lion Electric plans to build up employment at the Joliet plant starting with 324 workers in the first year, 372 in the third year, and 745 in the third year.

The Economic Development Committee approved an incentive package that reduces the city’s portion of property taxes on the plant by half in the first five years of operation.

Committee Chairman Larry Hug called the incentive package a “no-brainer.”

“This is a very minimum package that they’re asking for us,” Hug said.

The city has approved similar abatements for other industrial projects in the past.

The same incentive package will be presented to three other taxing bodies: Will County, the Troy School District, and the Minooka High School District.

Lion Electric is moving into a 906,000-square-foot building under construction at 3835 Youngs Road in the Clarius Business Park. The site is located near the Joliet border with Channahon and is near a Whirlpool distribution facility in Joliet and two Amazon facilities in Channahon.

Duquette, who joined the meeting through Zoom from Canada where Lion Electric is based, said the company plans to hire mostly assembly line workers, but also skilled workers including welders and managers and other professionals.

The company has said the Joliet plant also will serve as a research and development center for its United States operations.

Prospective wages at the Joliet plant were based on an analysis of pay for similar jobs in the region.

They include: $31,775 for production workers, $53,998 for management and administration, and $89,303 for professionals and salaried employes.

Duquette said those salaries were based on regional averages. But, he added, “We want to pay strong competitive wages.”

Lion Electric is counting on a surge in demand for electric vehicles as it makes plans for its Joliet plant.

The company currently employs less than 500 workers in suburban Montreal and has a production plant with the capacity to produce 2,500 vehicles a year. The Joliet plant will be designed to produce 20,000 vehicles a year, the company said.

Duquette said Lion Electric plans to begin moving equipment and machinery into the Joliet plant as soon as it is ready. The building is now under construction.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News