Most Hoosiers to be locked out of Honda jobs

August 23, 2007
Four of five Hoosiers will not be eligible to apply for the roughly 2,000 production jobs at the Honda Manufacturing of Indiana plant in Greensburg, the Japanese automaker announced today.

Honda Manufacturing of Indiana said in a news release that it plans to begin advertising the positions in newspapers Aug. 26. The deadline to apply is Sept. 9, and the first phase of hiring will 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, Hancock, Johnson, Marion and Shelby counties are included.

The 2006 estimated population of those counties makes up 21 percent of the state's population of 6.3 million.

Company representatives were not immediately available for comment.

The plant was one of the most sought-after economic development plums in the nation when it was officially announced last year. Construction on the $550 million plant is underway, and production of Civic sedans is expected to begin in fall 2008.

Asked if it is fair that most Hoosiers are excluded from the process when the state spent $24.5 million 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.

A long-time economic development consultant said Honda'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 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."

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.

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