Brad Pepper, vice president of Topre America, talks about the new facility his company plans to build in the Champion Business Park in Springfield and the Honda front end, in foreground, that they intend to build there. Bill Lackey/Staff

Honda supplier gets $300K tax credit to bring 85 jobs to Springfield

A Japanese auto parts supplier is one step closer to creating 85 new jobs and taking over a Springfield industrial park after receiving tax credits valued at about $300,000 on Monday.

Members of the Ohio Tax Credit Authority voted unanimously Monday to approve a 1.217-percent, seven-year tax credit for the Topre America Corp., which has pledged to take over Springfield’s Champion City Business Park.

Topre plans to invest $55 million and create at least 85 jobs, with the expectation more workers could be added over the next several years. The 85 jobs the company has pledged to bring to Springfield would generate an estimated payroll of more than $3.4 million, according to state documents.

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City leaders are also expected to offer an incentive package, although details haven’t been finalized, said Tom Franzen, assistant city manager and director of economic development. Springfield City School District board members also need to approve any potential agreement, but it’s possible city commissioners could review a proposal as early as May 9, Franzen said.

The incentives are important in part because Springfield competed with sites in New York and Pennsylvania for the project, said Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Greater Springfield.

“We had to be very competitive and thankfully we were,” Hobbs said.

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The state’s incentives will begin in 2019 and expire in 2025. The Job Creation Tax Credit is performance-based, so the estimated value assumes the company meets its job creation and payroll commitments. Topre wouldn’t receive the incentives if it falls short on those measures.

The incentives would allow the company to claim a 1.2-percent credit on Ohio employee payroll related to the new jobs created, said Lisa Colbert, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Development Services Agency. Businesses still pay 100 percent of their withholding taxes.

As part of the agreement, Topre would be required to maintain its operations in Springfield for at least 10 years, according the state. The manufacturer didn’t respond to requests for comment on Monday.

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Topre specializes in stamping and producing high-strength steel, which is in demand as automakers work to produce vehicles that are strong enough to withstand crashes but light enough to improve fuel efficiency. The company initially announced plans in December last year to create 20 jobs as part of a project to manufacture parts for the Acura MDX in Springfield.

But the manufacturer quickly secured additional work. Just weeks ago, company leaders announced the initial $10 million investment had grown into a $55 million deal to create 85 jobs in a 146,000 square-foot facility.

Topre’s plant will go on a roughly 30-acre industrial site that once housed an International Harvester/Navistar factory until it closed in 2002. The business park was completed in 2013 after a decade of cleaning up industrial contaminants and improving infrastructure.

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“It’s key to activate a long-idle site,” Franzen said of the business park. “It’s been over 15 years since that neighborhood has seen this kind of activity. We’re excited about bringing those job opportunities to that area of town and the community.”

Company and local economic development officials are now working to finalize details about the company’s investment, Hobbs said. The company is also finalizing building design plans, and construction activity is expected to begin at Champion City as early as May.

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