After four years and a failed federal loan, a company that promised to make police cars and employ hundreds of Hoosiers says it is once again moving forward, but it might not happen where everyone thought.
Carbon Motors, which promised to employ more than 1,500 people in Connersville in 2009, has yet to fulfill that promise due to a federal loan which was delayed for several years and then rejected in early 2012.
Now, a Carbon Motors spokesperson says the company is ready to begin filling orders for a new multi-purpose law enforcement truck in 2013.
“It’s a very exciting day for us,” said Stacy Stephens, chief brand officer for Carbon Motors. “It’s something we’ve been waiting for, for quite some time, to be able to get some vehicles in the hands of customers.”
But despite promising jobs to Connersville in the past, Stephens said the company hasn’t made a final decision about where to manufacture the truck.
“At the moment the intent is (to build it in Connersville),” Stephens said. “Unfortunately, we’ve lost the right to purchase the building.”
After the federal loan fell through earlier this year, the city of Connersville, which purchased the old Visteon plant to lure Carbon Motors to town, recently approved the selling of the building to a third party.
Mayor Leonard Urban said the city had an obligation to move forward in hopes of creating jobs. The area leads the state in unemployment.
“It’s always been our hope that we could put something in (the old Visteon plant),” Urban said. “When Carbon (Motors) was kind of uncertain, we had to pursue something else.”
“With them attempting to sell the building we don’t know what our long-term status is at that particular location,” Stephens said.
The sale of the old Visteon plant is not official. The third party buyer is now asking city officials to give them until March in order to close, but Mayor Urban said that he doesn’t expect the plan to change because of the announcement by Carbon Motors.
“We still would hope that if (Carbon Motors) are going to build something at all they would build it here,” Urban said.
The mayor said the new buyer intends to lease the space Carbon Motors needs to build the truck, but that’s not exactly what the company wants.
“I’m sure there are other places we can go where we wouldn’t have to contend with having a landlord,” Stephens said. “Obviously, we came here to build a company and we can’t have our hands tied with the regards to the facility.”
And if the company would decide to go elsewhere?
“I would personally be hurt. We’ve put a lot into Carbon Motors, and I’ve taken a lot of heat,” Urban said. “Our people are hurting. Kids at school, 84 percent in some of our grade schools receive free lunch, and that tells the story. We need to have jobs here and that’s what we’re interested in with that building.”
Stephens said Carbon Motors has not looked at any other potential sites to manufacture the truck. He said federal regulations prevent company officials from talking about their new private funding or other financial details of their upcoming manufacturing plans.