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Editorial: Automaker’s expansion brightens area economy


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While the economic recovery appears to be only crawling forward, there are occasional bright spots.

A Franklin auto parts maker is adding 73 manufacturing jobs in order to start making turbochargers, or devices that boost an engine’s power.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Climate Control in Franklin plans to hire 73 employees as part of a $12 million expansion and could add even more positions over time, president Tetsuzo Ukai said. The company will start hiring next year for jobs that are expected to pay $20 to $22 an hour, including benefits.

The Japan-based auto parts maker plans to increase its current Franklin workforce by about a third so it can make turbochargers in North America for the first time.

The company announced its expansion at the Statehouse in Indianapolis last month. Gov. Mitch Daniels and other state officials heralded Mitsubishi and eight other companies that plan to bring more than 2,500 jobs to Indiana over the next few years.

Mitsubishi plans to expand its 200,000-square-foot facility on the east side of Franklin by about 10,700 square feet in order to make room for three assembly lines, Ukai said. The plant will make turbochargers for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

New federal fuel-efficiency standards, high gas prices and more energy-conscious car buyers are accelerating the demand for smaller engines, he said. Mitsubishi’s turbochargers will give those smaller, more fuel-efficient engines more pep.

The company decided to expand in Franklin because of its skilled workforce and proximity to automakers in both Detroit and the South, Mayor Joe McGuinness said. Franklin also benefited from having a high concentration of Japanese-owned companies, such as KYB Manufacturing and NSK Corp., he said.

“It’s a tremendous victory for Franklin,” McGuinness said. “This is going to get a large number of folks back to work and help underemployed people who want an opportunity to advance their careers.”

Franklin is offering the company a tax abatement, or property tax break, of $133,670 on the addition to its factory and another $455,083 tax break on the manufacturing equipment, McGuinness said. The business’s property taxes would be phased in over a 10-year period.

The city also has offered $150,000 toward construction costs, as an incentive for the new jobs and investment, McGuinness said. That money would come from the city’s tax-increment financing districts, which collect property tax dollars from new developments in certain areas and channel them into road and other infrastructure improvements.

Those incentives still would have to be approved by the economic development commission, the redevelopment commission and the city council, McGuinness said.

The Indiana Economic Development Commission offered the company $100,000 in training grants and $600,000 in state tax credits. But Mitsubishi would capture the full value of those tax breaks only if it hires the number of employees it has pledged during the next four years.

Any expansion by a local company is good news; but when it’s accompanied by significant job growth, that’s especially welcome news. And if this company’s growth is an indicator of a growing economy, then it’s news all of Johnson County can celebrate.

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