By Kevin Rader, WTHR political reporter - bio | email
LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
Subaru is planning to make a bigger investment in Indiana - doubling capacity at one of its assembly lines and adding 900 new employees.
The company will spend $400 million to start building Impreza models in Lafayette by 2016. As of now, all Imprezas are imported from Japan, but that is about to change.
Subaru Indiana Automotive, which already manufactures the Outback, Legacy and Tribeca will begin manufacturing the Impreza, as well, in 2016.
"I want one built here locally. I want one built here domestically," said Ryan VanScoyoc, general manager for Bob Rohrman Motors Subaru in Lafayette.
That is what VanScoyoc says his salesman at the dealership located just two miles up the road from the Subaru plant in Lafayette hear everyday.
Pat Starbuck has driven a Ford for over 30 years, but because her son now works at the Subaru plant, that is about to change. We talked to her as she sat with a salesman at the dealership. She said her son said to her, "Mother, you need a Forrester. Very easy to get in and out of."
So she now subscribes to the motto here, "Buy Subaru and Keep Lafayette Driving."
Wednesday's announcement means an economic investment of $450 million by the company and 900 new jobs.
"A lot of people are going to have a chance at those jobs or the ten other jobs for each job created here in the county," said Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski.
Subaru does have an impressive record. It has rolled out 3.9 million vehicles since coming to Indiana in 1989.
The company considered Mexico and Japan, but finally opted for Indiana.
"They have great confidence, our parent company does, in the quality of our associates building vehicles and I think that is the main reason we are building the Impreza in 2016," said Tom Easterday, executive vice president at SIA.
SIA already has an impressive 830-acre footprint in Lafayette. As of Wednesday, it announced an additional expansion of another 500,000 square feet.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is chipping in $9.5 million in conditional-based tax credits and $500,000 in training grants.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who attended the jobs announcement Wednesday, said "Our tax credits are performance-based. When jobs are created, then those tax credits take effect."
VanScoyoc at the Subaru dealership closest to the plant supports that endorsement.
"You add another 900 jobs and $400 million expansion. That is great for us and the country," he said.
It could mean a lot more Hoosiers, like Pat Starbuck, will keep their purchase in the family.
"Helping him a little, too - and Lafayette," she said.
Because the shipment, which as of now originates overseas, will come from right here in Indiana.
Sales of the Impreza have fallen 31 percent this year, due largely to a shortage of models. Ward's Automotive says Subaru has only enough Imprezas on the ground to supply dealers for 29 days. A 60-day supply is considered optimal.