Construction starts on $55M plant for major new Springfield employer

Construction has started on a $55 million auto-parts plant that will bring 85 jobs to Springfield and city commissioners have approved a tax abatement for the project.

Topre America, a Japan-based manufacturer that makes parts for car companies like Honda and Toyota, will take over the Champion City Business Park. The site had once been home to a former International Harvester/Navistar factory for generations.

RELATED: Topre plant in Springfield to bring jobs to historic site

The business park was completed in 2013 after a decade of cleaning up industrial contaminants and improving infrastructure at the site.

Springfield was the best choice for Topre, said Pete Steiner, general manager of Topre America’s Springfield plant.

“Bringing back the exact kind of manufacturing that has been here for many, many years and there’s a good workforce here in Springfield,” Steiner said. “A skill set that we need to be successful.”

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.

DETAILS: Honda to invest $49M in Russells Point plant

The manufacturer will open the doors to its new 146,000-square-foot facility at the end of the summer, Steiner said. It will begin trials shortly after that and then begin shipping parts this fall.

It’s estimated the annual payroll for the new Springfield jobs will be about $3.45 million.

The company will receive a property tax abatement from the city, said Bryan Heck, deputy city manager.

“An abatement on the increased value of taxes generated from the creation or new construction on a property,” Heck said.

Topre will receive a tax break of 75 percent off the increase value of its property taxes for the next 15 years. The company in exchange has agreed to add at least 85 jobs over the next three years. It if doesn’t hit its employment goals, the abatement calls for the manufacture to repay the property taxes.

READ MORE: Springfield sites among first to get designation that may add jobs

“We were able to work together and come up with a package that was good for the company but it was advantageous to the community,” Heck said.

That was one of the key points the city and community partners such as the Springfield City School District, the company and the Community Investment Corp. made.

“Finding a good location with a quality workforce and a site that will work was No. 1 in our conversations with the company,” Horton Hobbs, the Vice President of Greater Springfield, said.

The new business also hopes to fund two scholarships for high school seniors with Springfield City Schools.

Heck hopes the new park will attract new industrial users to the community.

MORE AUTO NEWS: Navistar closes deal with VW to buy 17 percent stake in truckmaker

“We were able to work together and come up with a package that was good for the company but it was advantageous to the community,” Heck said.

Hobbs agreed, saying more businesses are inquiring about this area of Clark County.

“We’re already getting an uptick in activity because of Topre,” Hobbs said.

Unmatched coverage

The Springfield News-Sun digs into important stories about jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent coverage of the top employers in Springfield and local jobless rates.

By the numbers

$55 million: Investment Topre America will make in its new Springfield plant and related equipment

$3.45 million: Estimated annual payroll for Topre’s Springfield plant

85: Jobs coming to Springfield with new Topre plant

146,000: Square feet in its new facility

About the Author