Topre America, a Japanese auto parts supplier, held a grand opening for its new Springfield plant in the Champion City Business Park this week.
The plant has the potential to bring more than 400 new jobs to the Springfield area. Here are three things to know about the new plant and its revitalization efforts for the area’s job market.
Reviving an old location
Topre has built its 146,000-square-foot, $55 million plant in the Champion City Business Park, located near the intersection of Lagonda and Belmont Avenues.
The site was formerly home to an International Harvester/Navistar factory, which had been there for several years but closed in 2002. The area remained vacant for several years but then underwent re-development to clean up contaminants and improve infrastructure, a project which took 10 years and was completed in 2013.
Topre originally only wanted to develop part of the business park for their factory, but ultimately claimed the entire park to support future growth operations. The company also has facilities in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Maumee, Ohio.
A commitment that could bring more than 400 jobs
The company has committed to bringing at least 85 jobs over the next three years to the area in exchange for a tax abatement on its property taxes.
However, General Manager Pete Steiner said there was a chance the operation could expand to more than 400 jobs for the Springfield area depending on future growth. Horton Hobbs, the vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Greater Springfield, said the city’s manufacturing background makes it a great place to find workers.
“We’re a perfect location,” he said. “Both logistically but also availability of workforce.”
Creating materials with increasing demand
Topre specializes in stamping and producing high-strength steel products, which are increasingly in demand as the auto industry shifts toward strong, lightweight materials that can withstand crashes, but are also light enough to improve fuel efficiency.
The company said there are plans in place to grow steadily over the coming months, with more staff, including managers and additional employees, being in place by early 2018. It expects to be fully operational by the end of that same year.
Topre says the annual payroll for the Springfield plant will be around $3.45 million, with the average wage being somewhere around $19.50 per hour.