Honda supplier may be expanding its investment in Springfield

6:03 p.m Wednesday, March 22, 2017 Community News

A Japanese auto parts firm that planned to invest $10 million in Springfield might be boosting its investment in Ohio.

Topre America has previously announced plans to open a plant next year at the Champion City Business Park, a project that would add about 20 jobs at a new 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.

But a recently published story in the Nikkei Asian Review said Topre will spend $54 million in Ohio on construction and equipment. The Nikkei Asian Review doesn’t specify Springfield, and company officials didn’t return calls or email seeking comment this week.

The Nikkei Asian Review also indicates the investment would take place on about 100,000 square meters, or about 25 acres of land — much larger than Topre’s initial announcement of a 20,000-square-foot facility. About 30 total acres are available at the Champion City Business Park, according to information from the city of Springfield’s website.

The Nikkei Asian Review also states Topre will expand an existing pressing plant in Tennessee as part of its U.S. investment.

Officials from the Chamber of Greater Springfield recently emailed an invitation for what they described as a “major project announcement” at 9:30 a.m. Monday in the chamber offices at 20 S. Limestone St. The Community Improvement Corp. of Springfield and Clark County also listed discussion of a press conference in their Wednesday board meeting agenda.

CIC board members went into executive session during their Wednesday meeting to discuss confidential property and legal matters. The board didn’t take action, said Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the CIC. The executive session was not on the board’s initial agenda Wednesday morning.

“The new production complex will be approximately two hours from Honda Motor’s factory in Indiana and Toyota Motor’s Kentucky facilities,” the Nikkei Asian Review says. Springfield is about two and a half hours from Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown, Ky., and two hours from Honda Manufacturing of Indiana in Greensburg, Ind.

The News-Sun also left messages with the city and Springfield City School District to request any information about potential tax incentive packages that may have been submitted. Those entities didn’t return calls Wednesday.

Topre, headquartered in Japan, announced in December that it would invest more than $10 million and bring 20 new jobs to the Champion City Business Park, the first development at a site that once was home to a former Navistar factory.

The company plans to manufacture high-strength steel parts for the Acura MDX. Topre workers would produce the front bulk head for the vehicle.

To make that deal work, Hobbs previously said local investors would build a 20,000-square-foot plant at the business park to lease to the company for three years. The firm would then have options to expand, continue to lease or buy the building.

Brad Pepper, vice president for Topre America Corp., told the News-Sun last year that the company hoped to pick up additional work from Honda, and if so could expand. Pepper didn’t return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

In the U.S., the company also operates facilities in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and an engineering office in Maumee, Ohio.

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