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Illinois company will move into Lear's current Hammond factory after move

A worker assembles Ford Explorer seats at the Lear Corp. plant in Hammond in July 2013. An Illinois company is poised to move into the factory after Lear moves to its new facility by the East Chicago South Shore Line station this summer.

An unidentified Illinois company is poised to move into Lear Corp.'s 25-year-old factory building on 165th Street in Hammond this summer after the Tier 1 automotive supplier moves to a larger plant that's now under construction, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said.

The manufacturing company will move into the 112,000-square-foot plant at 1401 165th St. in Hammond right after Lear moves out this summer, McDermott said.

Lear, which makes seats for the Ford Explorer at Ford's nearby Chicago Assembly Plant in Hegewisch, has been building a new 240,000-square-foot facility on a 30-acre site off Carrol Street in Hammond, just south off the South Shore Line's East Chicago train station.

Lear built the 165th Street factory that initially employed 300 workers for $9.5 million in 1994, but outgrew it and moved about 300 subassembly workers 20 miles east to the AmeriPlex at the Port business park in Portage in 2015. The Southfield, Mich.-based auto parts supplier is building the new plant that will employ about 875 workers to consolidate its Hammond and Portage operations under one roof.

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"It's good that this is lined up, because the city won't even have to do anything to market that building," McDermott said. "It won't sit vacant at all. Someone is going to come in and bring more jobs right away."

Hammond Director of Economic Development Anne Anderson said the new company did not yet want to be identified and likely would not make a public announcement until June.

A number of Illinois companies have relocated or expanded to the less taxed and more inexpensive Northwest Indiana over the past decade, including Alliance Steel, Modern Forge, Land O'Frost, T&B Tube Co., AM Manufacturing, Edsal Manufacturing, American Stair, Hoist Liftruck, and Hickman, Williams & Co.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.