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Former Trailmobile site in Charleston gets new tenant, to create at least 75 jobs

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Semitruck trailers sit on the lot of the former Trailmobile plant in Charleston. GDB, a New Jersey-based company, joined with Charleston city and Coles Together officials on Wednesday in announcing the plans for the site.

Red, White & Blue Days volunteer Betty Coffrin talks about the events that this annual Charleston Fourth of July festival has planned on Saturday, July 3 and Sunday, July 4. 

CHARLESTON — Commodities recycler GDB International has announced plans to open a production facility in the former Trailmobile industrial site that will create at least 75 new jobs.

GDB, a New Jersey-based company, joined with Charleston city and Coles Together officials on Wednesday in announcing the plans for this former semitrailer manufacturing facility site at 1000 N. 14th St., which GDB purchased in June.

The announcement reported that GDB, which sources and recycles metal, paper, plastics, and paints to help clients worldwide reduce waste, has committed to invest approximately $6.5 million in renovating the Charleston facility, upgrading the infrastructure, reestablishing rail service, and bringing new equipment on site.

GDB President Sunil Bagaria said he complements the work of local officials during the past three and half years to promote the former Trailmobile site and the community as an expansion location for his company. Bagaria said said he is eager to set up shop and get underway in the community, and sees the investment and initial job creation as just a start.

“We have plans to turn the site into the Taj Mahal of recycling facilities in our industry,” Bagaria said. “Once renovations are complete, which we anticipate could take up to 24 months, the facility will be a source of pride for Charleston citizens."

As a provider of recycling and sustainability solutions, Bagaria said GDB can help companies achieve their zero waste goals. Bagaria said he looks forward to meeting his counterparts in the industrial sector in the region, and hopes to establish meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with them. He and his team plan to be in Charleston in early July.

The site of the former Trailmobile site, which closed in 2001, is located between Illinois Route 130/Olive Avenue and East County Road 1000N. Coles County finished upgrading 1000N in 2012 to provide direct access to Coles County's northernmost Interstate 57 interchange, which opened in 2009.

GDB, founded in 1993, plans to start renovation work immediately and will utilize the 430,000-square-foot building’s existing footprint and modernize the 50-year old structure, the announcement reported. The new operation reportedly will focus on providing LEED certified construction and state-of-the-art improvements.

Charleston Mayor Brandon Combs said they are excited to welcome an international leader in post-industrial, post-commercial, and post-consumer recycling to the community and are particularly excited to welcome 75 new jobs. He said to say this is "a big deal" would be an understatement.

“When Trailmobile closed in 2001, the community was in shock and many believed we would not recover," Combs said. "To watch the 430,000-square-foot industrial space sit empty and deteriorate was like pouring salt in the wound. So, to be announcing 20 years later that an international company is going to invest millions of dollars renovating the facility and bringing 75 jobs to our community, is something not many mayors get to do.”

City Manager Scott Smith said he was glad to be part of the team that worked to recruit GDB to Charleston and he looks forward to welcoming them as a new corporate citizen and helping the company grow in the community.

“Generating cost effective materials that are recycled back into the economic mainstream as manufacturing feedstock, while creating jobs for our citizens is environmentally prudent and helps create a thriving local economy,” Smith said.

Coles Together President Angela Griffin said GDB’s investment in a "flagship production operation" in Charleston represents a win for the community and a step forward in expanding sustainability options for the industrial sector while moving Coles County and Illinois in the direction of a green economy.

The county economic development organization worked closely with the city and the state to recruit this global company to Charleston, Griffin said.

"We look forward to connecting GDB with area companies in the industrial sector to establish meaningful relationships with them,” Griffin said. "We welcome them as a new corporate citizen and are eager to add to their success by helping the company grow in the community.

Sylvia Garcia, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said the state welcomes GDB’s decision to bring their newest production line to Illinois. She said this is further evidence that Illinois has the resources that companies need to grow and compete in the 21st century economy.

"Under Gov. Pritzker's leadership, we are committed to supporting the success of new Illinois companies just like GDB International, by attracting companies with our strong infrastructure and skilled workforce in downstate Illinois," Garcia said.


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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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