Chrysler reveals plans for $374 million expansion in Kokomo, Tipton

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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.

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