More seating capacity: Company plans West Side expansion. | Crain’s Chicago

By Alby Gallun

December 14, 2011

Freedman Seating Co., which makes seats for buses and trucks, plans a 170,000-square-foot expansion of its headquarters and factory on the West Side, financing the project with $5.7 million in tax-exempt bonds.

The company, which started out making seat cushions for horse-drawn buggies more than 120 years ago, has outgrown its current headquarters at 4545 W. Augusta Blvd., where it employs 530 people.

Freedman wants to use the industrial-revenue bonds to finance its purchase and renovation of a neighboring 170,000-square-foot building at 4501 W. Augusta, according to a report prepared for the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA). The IFA preliminarily approved the financing at a Tuesday meeting. The company would occupy both buildings.

The expansion is a good sign for local industrial economy that has been battered by the recession and the migration of jobs to lower-cost overseas labor markets. Freedman has doubled is workforce since moving to its current location from Ravenswood and plans to add another 43 when it expands, according to the report.

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