Chicago area Ford dealers distribute 200,000 face masks, underscoring Ford's commitment to local communities
This week, nearly 20 Chicago-area Ford dealerships are distributing 200,000 face masks to schools, nonprofits and first responders in their communities. This initiative is part of a commitment by Ford and its philanthropic arm, the Ford Motor Company Fund, to manufacture and distribute 100 million masks to nonprofits, schools, veterans and other communities facing shortages of personal protective equipment.
The disposable, medical-grade face masks, manufactured by our Ford and UAW partners, are reaching Chicago area schools as they start opening, area food pantries as they continue supporting unprecedented need and our police and fire stations as they continue operating on the front lines of the pandemic.
Ford is -- and always has been -- Built for America, stepping up when we're needed most. We did this in World War II when our own Chicago Assembly Plant manufactured armored vehicles. And in March, we quickly shifted from manufacturing cars, trucks and SUVs to manufacturing face shields, ventilators and respirators.
As the owner of a Ford dealership for more than 30 years, I'm proud of the impact we have on communities across Chicagoland. A newly released study by Boston Consulting Group found Ford's Chicago dealer network is 152 strong employing 6,700 direct employees and supporting an additional 5,500 indirect and community jobs. Combined with our manufacturing commitment to Chicago, Ford helps sustain about 60,000 Illinois jobs and contributes $6.8 billion to the state GDP.
Jobs and economic impact are crucial, but equally important is the partnership we have with our friends in neighbors in the communities we call home.
On any given weekend, you can find your local Ford dealership hosting a "Drive 4 UR School" fundraiser, infusing up to $6,000 into the local school.
Each fall, the Ford stores band together to raise money for JDRF, and together we've contributed more than $1 million toward what has become our signature fundraising effort. During Thanksgiving, it's tough to find a dealership that isn't filling up the bed of an F-150 with turkey or canned goods for the local food pantry. And in December, you'll find Santa and his elves in Ford showrooms across the Chicago area.
Ford and the Chicago area have a special relationship dating back to 1905 when we opened our very first sales office. At that time, there were more than two dozen companies producing vehicles in the area. Today there is one: Ford Motor Company.
On behalf of our local Ford dealerships, we are proud to build in Chicagoland and we are proud to give back to Chicagoland. If you need us, we're here to help. Just look for the Blue Oval.
• John Hennessy is the owner of River View Ford in Oswego. He is the vice chairman for the Ford Dealership Advertising Fund in Chicago and past chairman of the Chicago Auto Show.