Manufacturers typically don’t boast about having a fully functioning football field on their property. But, the 2010 Assembly Plant of the Year has that unique distinction. The front lawn of the Eaton Corp. plant in Lincoln, IL, is a hot spot for local youth-league games.

The 2010 Assembly Plant of the Year has a football field in its front yard.

Assembly Plant of the Year has that unique distinction. The front lawn of the Eaton Corp. plant in Lincoln, IL, is a hot spot for local football games. During the late summer and fall, the “yard” is full of players of all ages and sizes.

Eaton Fields is home of Lincoln Youth Football, which boasts more than 150 grade-school-aged participants. Three years ago, Eaton allowed the group to set up two fields on its property, including goal posts and scoreboards. Before they had a home field, the kids were forced to practice at the local high school.

Recently, a former Lincoln resident donated a large amount of money to build a permanent building that will house equipment, locker rooms, washroom facilities and a concession stand. In the past, helmets, shoulder pads and other equipment was kept in an old semitrailer.

Eaton Fields is just one example of the 2010 Assembly Plant of the Year’s active role in the community. The facility is proud to be the largest single private employer in the county. In fact, it received the Large Employer of the Year Award from the Logan County Chamber of Commerce in 2008 and 2010, recognizing the plant’s strong community support.

“Even during the current recession, our employees increased their year over year United Way contributions 16 percent per employee from 2008 to 2009, and total contributions to the community increased by 11 percent,” says Rick Wyatt, plant manager. “This is a significant metric, as the donations from Eaton Corp. and the Lincoln facility total almost 50 percent of the entire local United Way campaign goal each year.”

In addition to its support of youth football and the United Way, Lincoln Eaton sponsors the annual girls and boys basketball tournaments at the local high school. Many employees also volunteer their time and talent for organizations such as Junior Achievement. And, the 2010 Assembly Plant of the Year has adopted a two-mile stretch of historic Route 66 that runs in front of the factory as part of the State of Illinois “Adopt a Highway Program.”

Last year, Eaton Corp. donated $50,000 to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital for use in a new diagnostic center. The company also donated $50,000 to Lincoln College for a new museum. In addition, Eaton sponsors a hot-air balloon in the Lincoln Art & Balloon Festival, an annual event that’s held in late August.