Officials: Chemical company chooses Illinois over Iowa for $1.4B fertilizer plant, Chicago HQ

A chemical company has chosen a site in eastern Illinois over one in Iowa for a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant, and plans to establish its U.S. headquarters in Chicago, two officials familiar with the decision said Monday.

Cronus Chemicals LLC will build the plant near Tuscola, about 20 miles south of Champaign, Illinois, the officials confirmed separately. They spoke on condition of anonymity because neither was authorized to discuss the decision ahead of an official announcement by state, local and company officials expected Wednesday in Tuscola.

The plant will produce the nitrogen-based fertilizers, urea and ammonia, and will employ about 175 people, the officials said. Construction is expected to begin in the spring and will take about three years, creating about 2,000 temporary jobs. The Chicago headquarters will employ about 25 more, the officials said.

In discussions going back more than a year, Tuscola had been competing for the plant against an alternative site in Mitchell County, Iowa. Other sites in other states were also considered. One of the officials said the state of Illinois offered a "competitive" package of incentives in that process, but provided no details.

A call to the company office was not answered Monday night. A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development, David Roeder, declined comment.

Cronus is owned by a group of Swiss and Turkish investors.

Tuscola has about 4,480 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Public officials have previously described the Tuscola site as primarily farm land that sits alongside a CSX rail line. It is also near Interstate 57 and has easy access to major natural gas lines — a key component in fertilizer production. The site was once considered for the FutureGen clean-coal project.