Hundreds of jobs coming to Indiana

Hundreds of jobs coming to Indiana
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Kevin Rader/Eyewitness News

Columbus - In one short year, Indiana has landed three major automotive plants, the only state to do so. Honda's Greensburg plant will hire over 2,000 people. Toyota's new Camry line will employ 1,000 people in Lafayette. Now, Cummins announces a new diesel engine assembly line in Columbus will employ 600.

Founded in 1919, Cummins Engine has always maintained a significant presence in Columbus, Indiana. Four years ago when the Fortune 500 company moved its heavy duty engine assembly plant to New York, it seemed like that was beginning to change.

"While we all understood the need to take that action those of us long associated with Cummins hoped there would be future opportunities for this site," said Joe Loughrey, Cummins president.

On Wednesday Cummins announced plans to begin production of its new light duty, clean diesel engine in the vacated Columbus Engine plant by 2010. That means anywhere from 600 to 800 new jobs.

"DaimlerChrysler will be the main customer for this engine," said Tim Solso, Cummins chairman.

Solso admitted on that dark day four years ago he asked if Cummins should pull the plug on the light duty diesel project, but Loughrey said no.

"I am really honored and pleased to be part of this announcement. You can't imagine how happy this makes me," said Loughrey.

It shows commitment to the workers. "I just want to say publicly that today I am more proud to be a part of the Cummins family as I've ever been before," said Curt McIntosh, Diesel Workers Union president.

Since Cummins renewed its corporate office lease, it means more than that.

"Cummins has kept its word to Columbus and to Indiana and we are grateful," said Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN06).

"What could be better?" asked Soslo. "We will be manufacturing an exciting new product that will increase fuel efficiency by 30 percent or more, thus saving energy and making us less dependent on foreign oil. The light-duty diesel engine will provide Cummins with the opportunity to develop a completely new market with our industry-leading technology. We will be creating new jobs, improving post-secondary education, and motivating more young people to view manufacturing as a great career opportunity. And we've selected Columbus, our headquarter city, as the best location for this enterprise."

Cummins asked for and received an education commitment designed to increase the quality and size of the job pool. That pipeline will run through Ivy Tech and the biggest universities in the state.

"We accept that challenge. Ivy Tech does. IU does. Purdue does. The people at the Learning Center do. Don't you worry about that.This is a state full of people who know how to work hard. A state full of people who have learned skills and will learn them again," said Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Even though the plant is expected to begin manufacturing before 2010 we will see some new jobs before that. We should see 200 jobs in Columbus by the end of next year.

"These are the days we live for," said Gov. Daniels. "These are the days we go to work for, days when the Indiana economy takes a big step forward, step back on the way to the kind of employment, the kind of incomes that Hoosiers deserve to enjoy, that we want our kids to have."

The governor said the announcement will benefit not only Cummins but also other manufacturing companies all across the state. The plan makes indiana the only state in the country to attract three auto manufacturing facilities in this year.