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Chrysler, Getrag to announce new factory

From Business Week| June 14,2007

Chrysler Group and Getrag Corporate Group officials will join Gov. Mitch Daniels on Monday to announce plans to build a transmission factory that could eventually employ more than 1,000 people.

Last month, Getrag purchased 145 acres of land in Tipton County at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Indiana 28. In April, the German company filed plans with Tipton County to build the 700,000 square-foot factory, which is estimated to cost about $560 million. The factory is estimated to employ about 1,200 people.

The announcement at the Tipton County Courthouse will detail site selection and when the factory will start production, Chrysler spokesman David Elshoff said Wednesday. He declined to provide more details.

Chrysler Group parent DaimlerChrysler first announced last fall that it was considering the Kokomo area for the new factory.

But in May, DaimlerChrysler AG announced that it was selling most of its Chrysler Group to Cerberus Capital Management. Daniels met with Getrag representatives during a trip to Germany and cautioned afterward that the Chrysler-Getrag deal wasn't done.

Indiana Economic Development Corp. spokesman Mitch Frazier repeated that message on Wednesday. He declined to comment on Monday's announcement and said state officials were still negotiating.

"The Chrysler-Getrag project is not yet a completed deal or a completed project," Frazier said. "Certainly we're optimistic the project will come to fruition, but I can't provide any details until all the parties have agreed."

Daniels spokeswoman Jane Jankowski also declined to comment.

Construction crews have started moving dirt on the factory site, Tipton Mayor George Ogden said. The land sits about four miles west of his city of 5,000 people. Ogden said the factory could attract new businesses or spin-off industries and will help the county's tax base.

"We feel like if and when it happens it will probably change the whole complex of Tipton County," he said.

Chrysler already employs about 6,300 people at three transmission plants and one casting factory in Kokomo, which is 14 miles north of Tipton. Tipton is about 35 miles north of Indianapolis.

The new factory will be part of what Chrysler calls its "powertrain offensive." That involves a $3 billion investment in launching new engines and a fuel-efficient, dual-clutch transmission, which is being developed with Getrag.

"The whole idea is we're developing lines of engines and components that deliver greater fuel economy," Elshoff said.

On Wednesday, Chrysler announced that it will spend $450 million to retool a Kenosha, Wis., engine plant to produce fuel-efficient V-6 engines, as another element of this powertrain offensive.

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