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UPDATE: Manufacturer plans $110M expansion, 329 jobs

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Gov. Mike Pence is traveling to northern Indiana for what his office calls an economic development announcement involving hundreds of jobs.

The announcement involves the Alcoa Howmet factory in LaPorte, which makes castings for the aerospace and industrial gas turbine industries in a plant about 150 miles north of Indianapolis. Greater LaPorte Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Bert Cook told The Times of Munster that the announcement involves a previously reported expansion plan by the company.

Cook said the investment is expected to result in 329 new jobs and $23 million in additional payroll.

The LaPorte City Council in February approved a 10-year tax abatement for Alcoa Howmet, which had plans to invest $110 million into its 200,000-square-foot manufacturing plant.

Company officials said the plant would make nickel-based engine parts for commercial airliners. Alcoa already makes the same components — in smaller sizes — for engines that go on business jets and planes flown by regional airlines.

Boeing and Airbus are stepping up production as airlines order new, more fuel-efficient planes. Asian airlines in particular are expected to grow rapidly as a booming middle class yearns to travel.

"This is a massive growth market, more than 8 years of backlog," CEO Klaus Kleinfeld said. Alcoa expects aluminum demand from aerospace companies to rise 9 percent this year.

Airlines have long gone through a boom-and-bust cycle, but Kleinfeld said he wasn't worried about that. He said smarter management and Asia's changing demographics will help the airlines.

The Indiana plant will make parts that form the rib cage around a jet engine's vital parts, so its customers are likely to be the big engine manufacturers such as GE and Rolls Royce. Alcoa wouldn't disclose customers, but said it has enough long-term contracts to support the facility, which is due to be completed late next year.

Alcoa said it could get up to $4 million in state tax credits for job creation and another $7.1 million in city tax incentives over 10 years.

The plant is part of Alcoa Inc.'s strategy to downplay its roots as a mining and aluminum-smelting company. Aluminum prices haven't recovered from the deep recession in 2008, and Alcoa has been idling smelters to reduce capacity and cut costs.

The company has been increasing its focus on producing finished aluminum products for aerospace, autos and other industries. Those segments account for more than half of the company's revenue and three-quarters of its after-tax operating income.

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  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...

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