Des Plaines aldermen unanimously approved moving forward in an application process that could net clothier Hart, Schaffner & Marx, 1680 E. Touhy Ave., $1.5 million in federal funds to hire more employees and expand and modernize operations, at the city council meeting on Monday.
City staff heard about the offer less than a week ago, and Michael Bartholomew, director of community and economic development, and Des Plaines’ new city manager effective April 21, said the city will “play a very little role in administering this grant.”
Illinois received two grant allocations, in 2008 and 2009, from the Community Development Block Grant Recovery Assistance federal program. One objective of the grant is to promote economic development activities that “meet locally defined community needs.”
Hart, Schaffner and Marx manufactures high-end men’s attire and employs about 600 workers at its Des Plaines location.
Des Plaines aldermen said they wanted to take advantage of this opportunity and keep manufacturing jobs in the city.
“I want to keep this [company] here in Des Plaines and keep it in my ward,” said Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Walsten.
The Hartmarx plant was in danger of closing three years ago when, while in bankruptcy protection, the company’s main creditor, Wells Fargo, threatened to cut off future funding if it chose a London-based investment firm, Emerisque, as its buyer, the New York Times reported.
Efforts by politicians, including Des Plaines Mayor Martin Moylan, helped keep the plant from closing, Journal & Topics Newspapers reported.
S. Kumars Nationwide Ltd., SKNL, a large textile company based in India, and Emerisque acquired Chicago-based Hartmarx for $128.4 million in August 2009, the Daily Herald reported.