Cummins announces hundreds of new jobs; new engine

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Cummins Inc. says it's preparing its Columbus engine plant to build a 5.0L V8 turbo diesel engine for Nissan's Titan pickup truck.

The V8 plant will add up to 500 new employees over the next few years. It currently employs 300. Hiring details are not yet available.

Nissan is counting on the Cummins diesel to provide light truck customers with a combination of towing capacity and fuel economy that will give the Titan an advantage in the competitive U.S. pickup truck market.

Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown outlined the importance of the Columbus engine plant to the city and the company.

"For the first time in a decade Cummins will be building engines at its very important, long-serving facility. This plant has been the historical heart of Cummins, the historical heart of our local economy," she said.

The plant has been remodeled 84 times since 1926 but the latest retooling couldn't have come at a more opportune time. Cummins will begin hiring in 2014 but the company says the consumer will ultimately determine how many jobs are available.

Plant General Manager Jeff Caldwell says research shows the engine could lead to sales of 300,000 vehicles annually.

Company CEO Tim Linebarger, however, tried to temper expectations on sales and jobs.

"This just means more opportunity for jobs. We don't know exactly how many jobs. Sort of depends on how many people buy Nissan trucks and other things," he said.

Cummins laid off about 150 workers from its Columbus and Seymour factories in October 2012. Some layoffs included professional staff in Columbus.

The company has about 7,700 Indiana employees among its some 47,000 staffers worldwide.

Columbus projects

In July, Cummins asked the Columbus City Council to approve property tax breaks for a major remodeling of an office building and a new $15 million warehouse near its southern Indiana headquarters.

Cummins proposes remodeling the four-story former Irwin Union Bank building in downtown Columbus that the company bought in 2010. Cummins is telling city officials that it plans to update the building's mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

City attorney Jeff Logston says Cummins plans to move about 150 employees from other Columbus facilities to the building.

The new warehouse planned near Cummins' Walesboro factory could add about 25 jobs.

Indianapolis expansion?

In June, it was reported that Cummins was considering several locations in downtown Indianapolis to build an office building that would expand its presence in the city.

The Columbus-based company now leases space in two downtown buildings for about 70 employees.  Cummins is looking to construct its own building of about 70,000 square feet, or more than double its current leased space.

Cummins spokesman Jon Mills says the company is evaluating its Indianapolis office presence and that it's too early to discuss details of its plans.

Property broker John Robinson says Cummins would prefer a new building rather than leasing existing space.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.