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Chrysler announces major expansion

kokomo water towerChrysler revealed plans for a major expansion in Kokomo and Tipton that would create 1,200 jobs by 2015. The expansion centers around the company’s plans to make eight- and nine-speed transmissions. Gov. Mike Pence and Chrysler officials announced the expansion on Thursday, Feb. 28

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Chrysler has announced a multi-million dollar investment that will bring hundreds of new jobs to Central Indiana, but it will need help finding enough qualified workers to make it a reality.

The automaker has committed to investing $374 million in order to expand its transmission manufacturing. According to Chrysler, it will also create 1,200 new job openings in Howard and Tipton Counties.

“Today, we prove again that our past and our future is manufacturing in the state of Indiana,” said Indiana Governor Mike Pence during the announcement on Thursday.

But as Indiana manufacturing moves into the future, Chrysler will have to work harder to fill the hundreds of jobs it’s promising.

“There’s not people readily available for these positions,” said Jeff Griffin, Director of the College of Technology at Purdue Kokomo.

Griffin said many people don’t realize Chrysler’s new transmission plants are more advanced than ever before. He said roughly half of the 1,200 new jobs will likely require some sort of advanced training.

“I think it’s a big problem for these companies when they want to expand,” Griffin said. “It’s hard to find these people. It’s not something people have been taught all along.”

Purdue is busy preparing to address that skills gap. They’ve already added a new faculty member for Mechanical Engineering Technology in Kokomo.

“Because of this announcement we’re revitalizing that program and updating it to meet more of (Chrysler’s) needs,” Griffin said.

Meeting the demand for those advanced manufacturing jobs won’t be easy. Griffin said it will take similar efforts from Ivy Tech and Indiana University Kokomo, to help prepare future employees specializing in everything from business to quality control.

“So it’s really a team that comes together to help a company like this,” Griffin said.

It’s a partnership all parties are invested in.

“I know that the jobs we are creating, with the support of state and local governments, will play an important role in boosting the area`s economy,” said Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

“When the workforce is educated, everybody wins,” Griffin said.

The College of Engineering at Purdue University has also been in talks with Chrysler on a research partnership related to the manufacturing expansion. Details are still being discussed.

KOKOMO – A massive investment from Chrysler means hundreds of more jobs for Hoosiers by 2015.

The company announced plans for a $374 million expansion that will create more than 1,200 jobs in Kokomo and Tipton. Gov. Mike Pence and Chrysler Group Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne were among those at the Thursday event.

“This investment (makes) Indiana home to the largest transmission manufacturing facility in the world,” said Pence, who referred to the Chrysler announcement as a comeback story for the U.S. automotive industry.

“Indiana is many things, but at our core we make things and we grow things and today we prove again that our past and our future is manufacturing,” he added.

More than $200 million worth of equipment will be invested into the Kokomo Transmission Plant and two other facilities nearby. The three sites are expanding its operations for eight- and nine-speed automatic transmissions. That part of the expansion plan will create up to 400 jobs.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight called Thursday’s announcement a big day for his city.

“It does a lot to stabilize and entrench that commitment to our community,” Goodnight said.

Chrysler will also invest more than $100 million on a new production line in Tipton County that’s expected to create 850 jobs. The production line will go in the former Getrag building off U.S 31. Workers will eventually produce the new nine-speed transmission there.

“I know that the jobs we are creating, with the support of state and local governments, will play an important role in boosting the area’s economy,” Marchionne said.

Chrysler was offered conditional tax credits and training grants by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. According to IEDC, the company can’t claim the incentives until people are hired. The IEDC indicated that the cities of Kokomo and Tipton offered incentives as well.

“I think it helps them with their business model, but on the other hand in that process we get the jobs and incrementally through those years and obviously improve the tax base that way,” Goodnight said.

Employees at the Kokomo Transmission Plant said they were happy with the announcement.

“The investment is unreal from when I first (came) in here into this plant. It’s turned around tremendously,” said Bruce Reece, who transferred to the Kokomo Transmission Plant after a St. Louis facility shut down.

“If people don’t have jobs, they can’t buy vehicles and we can’t build transmissions to go in them,” he told Fox 59.

Like Reece, Warren Holloman Sr. also transferred from St. Louis.

“The town of Kokomo been really friendly to me thus far. It’s smaller than St. Louis, where I’m from, but seems like a real nice place to raise a family,” he said.

Holloman, who bought a home in Kokomo, said he was thrilled to see the company expanding, making investments and adding jobs.

“I think the transmissions will benefit—like I said, more jobs here—but (they’ll) also help with the fuel efficiency of our cars,” Holloman said.

KOKOMO – Chrysler announced plans Thursday to invest $374 million to expand its operations in Indiana, creating more than 1,200 new jobs by 2015.

Gov. Mike Pence joined Chrysler executives in Kokomo to make the announcement. The company will invest about $212 million to install the equipment needed to build eight- and nine-speed transmissions at three of its Kokomo plants. That work is expected to start later this year. When it’s finished, the improvements will mean about 400 additional jobs.

Chrysler will spend another $162 million to acquire the former Getrag facility in Tipton. The plant would make nine-speed transmissions and employ up to 850 workers. The site is expected to be up and running by the end of next year.

“Chrysler’s choice of Indiana for this landmark project puts all eyes on the Hoosier State today,” said Pence. “We are thrilled with the number of career opportunities for Hoosiers, and this marks another important step in the resurgence of the U.S. automotive industry. With our convenient location, talented workforce and pro-business policies, it is no surprise that Indiana is an integral part of this comeback story.”

Chrysler group has invested more than $1.6 billion in Kokomo to produce the transmissions and pay for upgrade to its facilities. The company employs more than 6,100 people.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Chrysler Group, LLC up to $11,500,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $200,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim them. Kokomo and Tipton have approved additional tax abatement.