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Oberweis Dairy to close North Aurora plant, lay off 127 workers amid bankruptcy filing

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Oberweis Dairy plans to close its North Aurora plant, laying off 127 workers starting June 11, after filing for Chapter bankruptcy protection on Friday.

The company notified state officials of the looming job cuts and plant closure under the Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires companies to notify the state of mass layoffs.

The 109-year-old family business that specializes in delivering milk, and includes nearly 40 ice cream and dairy stores in Illinois and Missouri, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in federal court in Chicago, according to court records.

In a statement, the company said it intends to sell its business through a court-approved bankruptcy process "as swiftly as possible."

"At Oberweis, we, like many companies, have been forced to make some very difficult decisions related to the structure of our company. These difficult decisions are always made with full consideration of other options and with an eye towards the best future of our company," the company said. "During this time, we remain committed to continuing to provide our customers with the highest quality, delicious milk and ice cream, along with world class service that our customers have come to expect."

In its bankruptcy filing, Oberweis listed more than $4 million in unsecured debt to its top 20 creditors, including more than $770,000 to Nussbaum Transportation Services, a trucking company based in central Illinois. Oberweis also listed a debt of more than $173,000 to the Cook County Treasurer's office, which collects property taxes.

Oberweis Dairy was started in 1915 by Peter Oberweis, a dairy farmer who began selling milk from the back of a horse-drawn wagon, according to the company's website. The company opened its first ice cream shop in 1951, and its second ice cream store in 1991. Oberweis Dairy now runs nearly 40 ice cream and dairy shops in Illinois and Missouri.

The company is owned by the family of former Illinois State Sen. Jim Oberweis, who served in the state legislature from 2013 to 2021. He also ran twice for U.S. Senate in 2002 and 2004, and ran for governor in 2006, but lost in the Republican primary all three times. He also ran for Congress in 2008, but lost to Democrat Bill Foster.

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