Chrysler plans $266M spending for Indiana plants

Chrysler is expected to spend $266 million on new equipment for two transmission factories in central Indiana, the company announced Monday.

The company's plans include expanding production of eight-speed automatic transmissions built at the Kokomo factories, the Kokomo Tribune reported.

The Kokomo City Council voted unanimously Monday night to give initial approval for a 10-year property tax abatement on the new equipment. The latest investment will boost Chrysler's spending on its five Kokomo-area factories to nearly $1.9 billion since its 2009 bankruptcy.

Chrysler didn't announce any additional hiring with the equipment plan, but said it would help retain 212 jobs with a combined salary of $9.8 million.

"This will allow for retention of jobs," City Councilman Bob Hayes said. "It will allow Chrysler to be more profit-centered. When companies are profitable, that means more job security and possibly more jobs."

The automaker has more than 7,000 workers at its facilities in Kokomo and nearby Tipton — some 2,600 of which have been hired since 2009.

Chrysler's recent spending has included $160 million to complete the Tipton factory, which opened last spring after sitting unfinished after German auto parts maker Getrag dropped the project in 2009.

The company last year said it was also investing $212 million for new equipment and tooling at three Kokomo factories to build transmissions for vehicles such as the Dodge Dart compact car, the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan and the Jeep Cherokee midsize SUV.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said the new spending was a sign that the city about 40 miles north of Indianapolis was thriving again.

"Chrysler's investment is one in a series of recent indicators for Kokomo's continued economic expansion," he said.

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