Honda — a major employer for Clark and Champaign counties — will invest $53 million to construct two buildings on its Central Ohio campus to house its North American information technology and market quality operations.
The two new facilities will be located in Raymond, Ohio, and are scheduled to open in early 2017. About 25 new jobs will be created by the project over the next few years in the information technology and market quality groups, Honda spokesman Chris Abbruzzese said.
About 1,400 workers from Clark and Champaign counties work for the automaker and it employs about 14,500 Ohioans overall. Several area companies, including KTH Parts Industries in St. Paris, Parker Trutec in Springfield and Urbana and Yamada North America in South Charleston supply parts for Honda.
The facilities are currently under construction and nearing completion.
The 38,000-square-foot Ohio Data Center will increase data storage for the company. Honda has a similar data center in Denver, Abbruzzese said, but wanted one near its large research and development operation in Ohio.
Honda R&D Americas Ohio Center, also located in Raymond, is Honda’s largest research and development center outside of Japan, producing new products for Honda and Acura customers. The new facilities will be located adjacent to the R&D center, Abbruzzese said.
The 98,000-square foot North American Quality Center building will consolidate operations for several Honda organizations under one roof, including product quality.
“We’ll be able to more efficiently and effectively address customer feedback identified from the marketplace,” Abbruzzese said.
The two new facilities will house about 200 employees each, Abbruzzese said.
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The company received a roadwork development grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency as part of the project, which will allow Union County to be reimbursed up to 50 percent for eligible roadwork costs, including road widening. The estimated value of the grant is about $665,000.
The projects are a good sign for both Honda and the region, Chamber of Greater Springfield Vice President for Economic Development Horton Hobbs said.
“It’s a strong, continued investment, specifically in our region,” Hobbs said. “It’s a good sign for the employees who work in Clark County. When you see investment like that, it sends a message to the supply chain and suppliers that the parent company is making investments in the region. You hope that that will increase business growth for the supply chain.”
Honda spent more than $24.4 billion for parts and materials from U.S. suppliers for its North American operations last year.
Locally the existing supply chain has seen significant growth over the past few years, Hobbs said. Yamada recently announced a $14.5 million expansion, while Parker-Trutec also invested about $13 million at its Springfield plant.
“Long-term, we hope to secure growth in those companies and find new companies interested in locating in close proximity to the plant,” Hobbs said.
Honda’s decision is an important investment for Ohio, where the manufacturer already has a significant footprint, said Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com.
“The bigger story is just the further investment in Ohio and just how much they actually have in the state,” Caldwell said.
The auto industry is becoming increasingly complex as it moves toward new technologies like self-driving vehicles, Caldwell said. Those kinds of technologies often require manufacturers to collect and analyze voluminous amounts of data from consumers, suppliers and other sources, she said.
“I would imagine investing in data infrastructure at this point before it takes off is probably something they all need to do to have the foundation to even start,” she said of automakers.
Honda worked with local and state government entities on the expansion project, including Union County, JobsOhio, Columbus 2020, the Ohio Development Services Agency and the Ohio Department of Transportation.