Honda kicks off Civic production at Greensburg

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The new Honda assembly plant at Greensburg has started mass production of the company’s Civic compact after several weeks of ramping up various components of the sprawling site.

Honda Manufacturing of Indiana said today that the first Civic, a black sedan, rolled off the sole assembly line at 7:50 this morning. It won’t be shipped to a dealer; instead, it’s destined for the visitor lobby of the $550 million facility.

When the plant was announced in June 2006, it was one of the biggest economic development prizes in the nation.

Honda has hired nearly 900 workers for an initial shift and plans to build to 2,000 workers and a second shift next year. The line has capacity to assemble 200,000 cars a year.

The Greensburg plant, which receives engines from another Honda site in Anna, Ohio, includes metal stamping, plastic injection molding, subassembly and final assembly among other processes.

It is the second plant the Japanese automaker has built that will send nothing to landfills.

More than 30,000 people sought the jobs, although Honda came under fire from the United Auto Workers and some Indiana politicians for accepting applications from only 20 Indiana counties, including Marion County.

Detractors said Honda appeared to be fencing out potential workers from union strongholds in places such as Anderson, where General Motors Corp. once had several large plants.

Still others suspected Honda was trying to avoid hiring minorities. Virtually all potential minority workers within the 20 counties were in Marion County.

But the automaker defended the decision by saying it wanted workers who stood good chances of showing up to work on time.

Spokesman Andrew Stoner said today that Honda isn’t releasing details of its hiring because the process is still underway.

However, Stoner added that the work force hired so far is representative of Indiana’s overall minority population. About 10 percent to 14 percent of the state’s 6 million people are minority.

“We’ve been very pleased with the diversity of the workers working here and that applied, also,” he said.

Greensburg is on Interstate 74 between Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

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