Canadian National scales back expansion plan for Kirk Yard in Gary
By Maria Amante email@example.com/648-3072 July 13, 2012 9:00PM
Updated: August 15, 2012 6:12AM
Canadian National Railway is reducing its commitment to Kirk Yard, trimming its planned investment in Gary by 132 jobs and $24 million.
The firm publicized its plans Friday, but announced the move to Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson early this week.
The expansion at the 350-acre Kirk Yard was announced in August 2011 and is intended to increase Kirk Yard’s processing capacity. A CNR spokesman said that the project is still moving forward as planned, but a planned locomotive repair center will remain in Illinois.
“Whenever we have a capital investment, many factors go into it,” said CNR spokesman Patrick Waldron said. “Current and anticipated economic conditions have changed and no longer warrant that move.”
CNR planned to spend $165 million and create 251 jobs with the new investment. The company now plans to spend $141 million and send 119 additional jobs to Kirk Yard.
Freeman-Wilson said that while she was disappointed by CNR’s move, it was not the worst-case scenario.
“You always want the largest economic opportunity for the citizens of your community,” she said. “From a business perspective, I understood their need to look at the bottom line at all times. They will continue to make a major investment in the community that will result in a number of jobs.
Freeman-Wilson said Gary was also named the central operating center for CNR in the United States, a fact she was encouraged by.
The city had awarded CNR incentives for its commitment, but those incentives will not remain at the same level, Freeman-Wilson said.
“They will still receive incentives; we are also, along with the (Regional Development Authority) going to review the incentives to determine what portion of that is appropriate,” she said. “What would have been worse is if they were going to scrap the project altogether. ... While it’s not the best news, it’s still good news.”
Waldron said CNR had anticipated a change in the incentive package and plans to discuss revisions with the city and the RDA.
“That incentive package was agreed upon based upon a defined scope of the project,” he said. “Canadian National has changed that scope and any further incentive package will be upon further agreement. We understand and recognize that we’ll have to have some discussions about the incentive package. We’re going to discuss the package with the city and RDA, and the package, as announced, we will not be pursuing.”