A long-time economic development consultant said Honda Manufacturing Indiana’s decision to limit applications for production jobs to people living in only 20 Indiana counties is “unusual.”
However, Don Iannone, of Mayfield Village, Ohio, quickly added that the Japanese automaker likely made a well-considered strategic decision.
“Honda pretty much knows what it needs to do to be successful,” Iannone said. “They no doubt have thought a lot about their labor market and where they can draw from.
“These guys, they’re pretty thorough.”
Honda announced today that it had started accepting applications for about 2,000 production jobs at the $550 million plant, which is to begin assembling Civic sedans in fall 2008.
The first phase of hiring is to begin later this year.
However, most Hoosiers need not apply. Applicants must live in 20 counties surrounding the southeastern Indiana city, the company said. In the Indianapolis area, only Hancock, Marion and Shelby counties are included.
The 2006 estimated population of those counties makes up nearly 20 percent of the state’s population of 6.3 million.
Honda spokesman David Iida said the decision was made to ensure workers would be within safe commuting distances from their jobs.
Hiring people who would have to sell houses, pull stakes and move closer to the plant would slow the ramp-up, Iida said.
“This helps us keep on schedule with the production start,” he said.
Asked if it is fair that most Hoosiers are excluded from the process when the state poured tens of millions of dollars in economic development incentives for the project, Jane Jankowski, press secretary to Gov. Mitch Daniels said, “Honda’s a company that determines their hiring decisions, and it’s great that they’re hiring Hoosiers.”
Indiana Department of Workforce Development spokesman Joe DiLaura had a similar response, saying the state should be glad that Honda isn’t drawing workers from Ohio and other states. The agency is fielding applicants online on behalf of Honda, then turning the applications over to Honda.
DiLaura referred further questions to the Indiana Economic Development Corp., which helped attract the plant.
Iannone said Honda probably is limiting the scope of its search to avoid cannibalizing workers from Ohio, where a large assembly plant in Marysville is fed by a plethora of nearby suppliers.
Honda also likely is focusing on rural southeastern Indiana counties because it wants to avoid hiring workers who might be more sympathetic to organizing unions, Iannone said. Marion County probably was lumped in to gain certain technical skills, he said.