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Culligan expected to bring manufacturing, engineering jobs

Culligan International Chief Operating Officer Allan Connolly (left) talks about Culligan's new 75000 square foot facility Assistant Director Illinois Department

Culligan International Chief Operating Officer Allan Connolly (left) talks about Culligan's new 75,000 square foot facility to Assistant Director at Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Dan Seals (center) and Deputy Director Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Daniel Goff during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new facility in Libertyville Tuesday, July 16, 2013. | Josh Peckler - For Sun-Times Media.

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Updated: September 23, 2013 6:15PM

A water-treatment company pledges to bring jobs to Libertyville and grow its export business out of an expanded facility along Harris Road.

Culligan International Co. unveiled the addition of 217,000 square feet of warehousing, assembly, distribution and office space during a tour that drew state and federal economic development officials Tuesday, July 16.

The 77-year-old Rosemont-based company is recruiting design engineers and project managers to new offices in Libertyville. As many as 10 new jobs could be added per year.

The project and the long-term investment in the Libertyville building are pegged at $10 million to $20 million.

The addition means Culligan has tripled its manufacturing space from a previous Vernon Hills facility the company moved out of earlier this year.

Culligan is looking to add additional manufacturing technologies in Libertyville, including the ability to weld stainless steel for its products.

“We have rigorous plans to continue our expansion,” Chief Operating Officer Allan Connolly said.

Gov. Pat Quinn was scheduled to attend the tour, but canceled his appearance due to a scheduling conflict, a spokesperson said.

“I am committed to building on our state’s global leadership in the water technology industry,” Quinn said in a prepared statement released by Culligan. “As one of the pioneers in water treatment, Culligan is deepening its business commitment to Illinois with this expansion and contributing to our state’s growth as a water hub.”

State officials touted Quinn’s $1 billion initiative to overhaul water infrastructure in Illinois. The program was announced last year.

“That’s making sure that Illinois is a hub for water technology, and so Culligan is right smack dab in the middle of what we are trying to do,” said Dan Seals, assistant director of the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

In 2007, Culligan moved its warehouse to the Harris Road building from the company’s former Northbrook headquarters.

Until the expansion in Libertyville, the Vernon Hills facility held 25,000 square feet for manufacturing. Connolly said Culligan simply ran out of space there.

“First and foremost, we really want to start to grow our export business,” Connolly said. “Now, we have the physical space and the manufacturing capabilities in this building to be able to build the systems we want to be able to supply to Latin America and Asia Pacific.”

Village President Terry Weppler said Culligan’s expansion continues a tradition of Libertyville-based manufacturers with global ties.

“I am really pleased now that we have Culligan here to help us also make Libertyville a part of developing villages, cities and countries around the world,” Weppler said.

Most of the engineers in Culligan’s industrial arm have moved from Rosemont to new offices in Libertyville.

“This provides us a nice opportunity to let the engineering force grow and expand here without having to be squeezed into the Rosemont facility,” Connolly said.

He said the company was attracted to the skilled labor force in the area.

“This facility could have been built anywhere, but we picked Libertyville for a reason,” Connolly said. “It’s a great location. It’s a thriving community.”

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