Jasper Engines expanding, adding 235 jobs

Jonathan Streetman/The Herald
Jasper Engines & Transmissions CEO Doug Bawel, left, Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann and Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz announced today the company's plans to expand its manufacturing efforts locally, adding up to 235 new jobs by 2017.

Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann and CEO Doug Bawel joined state and local officials today in announcing Jasper Engines & Transmissions’ plans to expand its Jasper footprint to create jobs and reinvest in the former Kimball Plastics manufacturing facility at 1220 Power Drive, creating up to 235 new jobs by 2017.

The company, which remanufactures drivetrain components, plans to invest $6.9 million to renovate and equip a 220,000-square-foot facility that is currently vacant. The former Kimball property is across U.S. 231 from Jasper Engines’ headquarters, about one-half mile from the company’s 367,000-square-foot flagship facility at 815 Wernsing Road.

“Jasper Engines & Transmissions is a great Indiana economic success story. The company that has prospered and provided hundreds of jobs for Hoosiers for over 70 years is expanding again,” said Ellspermann, a Ferdinand native. “We continue to see how our business-friendly tax and regulatory policies plus our dedicated workforce make Indiana a place where companies want to expand and locate. Our record-breaking job growth shows that Indiana truly is a state that works.”

The new facility will become the new home of Jasper’s Transmission Division, which includes disassembly, machining, assembly, testing and warehousing of automotive drivetrain components. Bawel said the plan is to make the new space fully operational this fall.

Steve Lukemeyer with F.C. Tucker Emge Realtors is the real estate broker on the purchase of the property.

Today’s announcement marks the third expansion by Jasper Engines & Transmissions in recent years, with the company exceeding its jobs goals on all previous projects. In 2012, the company announced plans to expand its headquarters in Jasper, investing $550,000 and adding 40 new jobs. This followed its 2010 announcement to invest more than $270,000 to relocate two of its out-of-state operations to its Crawford and Dubois county facilities, creating 65 new jobs.

Jasper Engines currently employs more than 2,600 associates throughout the United States, including more than 1,445 in Indiana. The company has already begun advertising for positions in manufacturing, maintenance, information technology, distribution, engineering and quality control positions in Jasper.

“When looking at our options for expansion, no other place measured up to the business climate in Indiana,” Bawel said. “Jasper Engines & Transmissions is growing at a high rate and this expansion is thanks to our hard-working associates and our company’s dedication to excellence when producing our products. This is Phase One of the approval needed for this project as we now await Phase Two, which is the City of Jasper’s approval of local real and personal tax abatement. We are excited to grow production here, and are very hopeful (that), with the state taking the lead, we can bring this project to fruition quickly.”

Jim Thyen, president and CEO of Kimball International, said the transaction “is clearly a win-win scenario for everyone — Kimball, Jasper Engines and the local community. We are extremely happy that we could reach an agreement with a local company who we know to be a long-time, good corporate citizen in the community. Jasper Engines’ expansion sends a strong message about the viability of this industrial area and our community’s openness to economic development.”

Kimball International’s Jasper StyleMasters division began in 1968. The 1220 Power Drive facility, part of a later expansion, was offered for sale by Kimball in 2005, at which point Jasper Plastics Solutions moved to the building. That company decided to move its operations five hours north to Syracuse in February 2008 to be closer to its core recreational-vehicle customer base in Elkhart, South Bend and Fort Wayne.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Jasper Engine Exchange, Inc. up to $1.15 million in conditional tax credits and up to $200,000 in training grants based on the company’s job-creation plans. The tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. The project is contingent upon Jasper Engines receiving real and personal property tax abatement from the City of Jasper.

“The proposed expansion of Jasper Engines & Transmissions is a reflection of the vibrancy of the Jasper economy and ongoing investments our city is making to create an even better place to live and work,” Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz said. “Jasper continues to set the pace for regional economic growth and we value the contributions of companies such as Jasper Engines & Transmissions who work in partnership with the City of Jasper and other economic development stakeholders. Today’s announcement represents significant work by city, state and company officials and it sets the stage for long-range positive impact for both the company and the greater region.”

Contact Jonathan Streetman at jstreetman@dcherald.com.

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