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Carbon Motors has chosen Indiana, official says

July 29, 2009
A rally this morning in Connersville originally intended to help persuade a police car manufacturer to locate a major factory there appears to be a celebration party.

Connersville city council member Gary Weber told IBJ this morning that "he's 99.999-percent certain" that Atlanta-based Carbon Motors, the developer of a high-tech cruiser that runs on clean diesel and biodiesel technology, has chosen Indiana over cities in Georgia and South Carolina.

Carbon Motors could employ about 1,500 workers at the plant within three years. The company says it already has orders for 10,000 cars.

State and local officials, including Gov. Mitch Daniels, are planning an event this morning at 11:30 that had been billed as a "jobs rally."

Carbon Motors spokesman Stacy Dean Stephens said this morning that company officials will attend the rally but wouldn't reveal whether a decision would be announced.

Connersville Mayor Leonard Urban said he would not confirm or deny whether Carbon Motors had made a decision.

But Weber said he'd be shocked if Connersville wasn't chosen. "(Fayette County) economic development director (Bryan Coats) told me it's going to be a great day in Connersville," Weber said this morning.

What incentives the state and Connersville are offering the company are unknown. Last month, the company eliminated cities in Michigan and North Carolina from contention.

Yesterday, Butch Kirven, the council chairman of Greenville County, S.C., told The Greenville News he met with company officials once and never sensed the city was a serious contender for the plant.

"They were requiring the local community to put up so much money that it was not something we could do," he told the newspaper. "It kind of ruled us out right away."

One of Connersville's greatest assets is a former Visteon plant, where today's rally will be held. The city is in the process of purchasing the massive building that sits on 187 acres out of bankruptcy, Urban said.

The city could sell the plant to Carbon Motors "very inexpensively" or "maybe even give it to" the company, he said.

"If they chose us, they could start to work immediately," Urban said.

For Fayette County, where the unemployment rate is almost 16 percent, landing the company would be a huge coup.

"Certainly in this economic climate, any project that is going to create 1000-plus jobs is enormous," said Jay Walters, president of Indianapolis-based Bingham Economic Development Advisors LLC. "It's pretty apparent by the enthusiasm and the community support that is pouring out what type of impact it could have on the community."
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