An auto-parts maker will expand in Springfield for the third time in less than two years, this time pledging to create more than 200 new jobs in the city.
Topre America Corp. said Monday the company will create 204 jobs and invest $73 million as part of an expansion to its plant in the Champion City Business Park, which is still under construction. The expansion, which will add a 138,000-square-foot stamping facility to the site, is contingent on state and local incentives.
Local economic development officials expected the company to grow when Topre first announced plans to build in Springfield in late 2016, said Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Greater Springfield. Topre has since then announced two expansions.
“Honestly, I did anticipate they would grow over time,” Hobbs said. “But never this quickly.”
Topre made its first move in Springfield in December 2016, when the Japanese auto parts firm announced plans to invest $10 million in a new 20,000-square-foot stamping facility that would create 20 jobs.
Then in March of last year, Topre increased its investment to $55 million in a 177,000 square-foot site and adding 85 jobs after acquiring additional work supplying manufacturers like Honda and Toyota. The expansion Monday was its largest yet, with plans to add another 138,000 square feet, create 204 more jobs and invest $73 million.
That brings the company’s total investment to about $130 million, with a projected total workforce just shy of 300 employees.
Topre now will take up most of the available space at the Champion City site and only has enough room for one more expansion there, said Brad Pepper, vice president of Topre America.
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“After this one, there’s one more phase we can do,” Pepper said.
Construction on the latest phase could begin in just a few weeks. If the company continues to grow, local leaders will find more space for them, Hobbs said.
Springfield’s workforce was the primary reason it was chosen for the latest expansion over sites in Indiana, Alabama and Tennessee, Pepper said.
“We’ve had a really good turnout for employment there,” he said. “We were kind of surprised at the number of people that were interested in coming to work for our company. The employment situation there is the best that we have in any other region that we operate in.”
The available positions will be in assembly, stamping, light manufacturing and research and development, with an average wage of $19.50 per hour. Topre is working with the chamber and OhioMeansJobs-Clark County to screen applicants and fill the jobs.
About 300 people applied for the first 20 jobs Topre made available, Pepper said. Of those, he estimated 80 percent of the applicants were qualified to work for the manufacturer. That, along with Springfield’s proximity to Topre’s customers, were key to the decision to expand again in Springfield, he said.
“The area obviously has a lot of skills in the automotive industry that’s been there for several decades,” Pepper said. “At the same time there’s a lot of availability and people that are interested in working for Topre. That’s the big part right now, is just the availability of the workforce.”
Topre’s announcement Monday is an important step for the region, Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said.
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“The city of Springfield is proud of Topre,” Copeland said. “Their plan to create an additional 204 new jobs is great news for Springfield and is proving to have long-lasting investment in Springfield.”
Silfex, a high-tech manufacturing firm that recently purchased the former Thirty-One Gifts facility on Titus Road, has also pledged to create 400 jobs and invest $223 million in the city. Topre’s announcement this week, along with Silfex, will provide the region with additional jobs it has needed for years, Hobbs said.
Ideally those companies will draw workers from outside Clark County, he said, and show them there are job opportunities that are worth pursuing here. It also provides a boost as local officials work on priorities like developing more new housing options and improving workforce development, Hobbs said.
He said about 54 percent of Clark County’s workforce now travels to other counties for work. These new jobs are a step toward reversing that trend, Hobbs said.
“What these jobs represent for many are opportunities to help prevent them from traveling outside the community,” he said of Springfield’s workforce.
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The Springfield News-Sun has provided extensive coverage of Topre since it first announced plans in 2016 to open a manufacturing plant in Springfield, including stories digging into the history of the business park it’s taken over and why the business selected Clark County.
By the numbers:
204 — New jobs to be created by Topre
138,000 square feet — Size of newest addition
177,000 square feet — Size of Topre’s current facility under construction
$19.50 — Average wage per hour for new jobs
$130 million — Total investment in Springfield by Topre