CHICAGO, April 17 (UPI) -- Before Motorola Inc. decided to build a mammoth plant in the farm community of Harvard, the biggest thing to hit town was the giant statue of Harmilda, the fiberglass Holstein that graces Main Street.
In 1994, Motorola changed all that, announcing it would build a $90 million cellular telephone plant that would occupy 400 acres, employ 3,000 people and bring development to the tiny agricultural town some 50 miles northwest of Chicago.
The dream ended Tuesday with the announcement the Schaumburg-based communications giant would close the plant next April. The plant had been open only five years.
Nearly 3,000 plant employees were laid off last year and another 850 workers in the cell phone and two-way radio distribution center will lose their jobs. Four hundred other employees will be offered positions at the company's other Chicago-area facilities.
A Motorola spokeswoman said the company decided to close the facility because it was not close enough to customers. It was never meant to be the distribution facility it turned into.
When the plant opened in 1997, it was supposed to be a world-class manufacturing plant. Motorola at the time was the No. 1 cell phone maker and could not keep up with demand.
The state invested $30 million in infrastructure to support the facility, gave the company a $5 million investment tax credit and money for job-training assistance. Motorola said it would make a $3 million grant to the state department of Commerce and Community Affairs for the Illinois Workforce Technology and Economic Development Fund for abandoning the facility.
State Rep. Jack Franks, a Woodstock Democrat, accused Motorola of "bad faith" in dealing with the state.
"They took taxpayers' grants and tax breaks under the promise that they would create and retain jobs," Franks told Wednesday's Chicago Tribune.
Harvard Alderman Tom Hay said many people were "bitter and upset" but acknowledged you can't blame a company for making necessary business decisions. The closure is part of Motorola's worldwide effort to trim 50,000 jobs and get its workforce down to 100,000.
President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Breen said Motorola is now practicing "balance sheet management" in its bid to return to profitability. News of the closure came as the company released first quarter earnings, showing a fifth straight quarterly loss.
Harvard is not taking the closure lying down. Plans already are under way to develop a unified marketing strategy to lure new businesses to the area.
Motorola was founded by Paul V. Galvin and his brother, Joseph, who began their tinkering in a Harvard garage. Their first company, Galvin Manufacturing Corp., began operations in Chicago in 1928, with five employees and a weekly payroll of $63. Their first product was a battery eliminator, which allowed battery-powered radios to run on standard household electric current.
In the 1960s, the company began shifting its focus away from consumer products and moved into high technology in the 1970s. By the end of the 1980s, it was the premier maker of cellular telephones. The company merged with General Instrument Corp. in 2000 and in recent years has shifted its focus to wireless, broadband and the Internet.