A top federal official hopes to bring more jobs to one of the largest employers in the Davenport area. Secretary of the Army John McHugh toured the Rock Island Arsenal and met with state and local leaders on Tuesday.
Secretary McHugh encouraged governments and businesses to work together to preserve jobs which he says are “too important to lose.” McHugh says, “Total job activities here have increased the dollar business throughput, and even in these tough times, we’re going to try to give them every possible competitive advantage to continue to grow those programs into the future.”
McHugh announced $70 million in military contracts that have been awarded to the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center on Arsenal Island, which sits in the Mississippi River between Davenport and Rock Island, Illinois. Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is working to advance a bill that would invest $225 million at the Rock Island Arsenal and other arsenals.
Senator Durbin says, “I’m looking for the day when a major manufacturer says we need a part, ‘Why don’t you call the arsenal?’ It’s a shame when we have to go to California to get XYZ. The arsenal thinks, ‘We can build XYZ. Let’s do it here and employ local people.'”
During his tour of the Arsenal’s Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, McHugh watched workers assemble vehicles for the National Guard, then, he attended a business forum with local officials. The JMTC has 1,100 employees. Overall, the Arsenal employs about 6,000 civilian workers and some 250 military personnel. Established in the 1880s, the Rock Island Arsenal is the largest government-owned weapons maker in the country.