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Some Democrats upset over Honda hiring

October 17, 2007
Five state Democratic lawmakers from Anderson, Muncie and Pendleton have written a letter to Indiana Secretary of Commerce Nate Feltman to say they're upset that their constituents were prevented from applying for the 2,000 production jobs created by the Honda Manufacturing of Indiana plant in Greensburg.

The lawmakers say their constituents should be able to apply for the jobs at the $550 million plant because their tax dollars were used to fund the incentive package that helped lure the Japanese automaker.

Honda is taking applications from only 20 Indiana counties that are within about an hour's drive of the plant. The site, which will assemble Civic compact cars, is about halfway between Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Honda says the policy was driven by the need to ramp up the facility quickly and have workers who can make the commute, while experts say the real reason is probably to avoid union strongholds.

Marion County is among the 20 counties, but Don Iannone, an Ohio economic development consultant told IBJ that Honda probably extended the hiring footprint to Marion County to add a few positions demanding high technical skills.

The lawmakers represent a former United Auto Worker union stronghold because the area once had General Motors plants that employed thousands. The letter was sent by Rep. Dennis Tyler of Muncie; Rep. Scott Reske of Pendleton; Rep.Terri Austin of Anderson; Sen. Sue Errington of Muncie; and Sen. Tim Lanane of Anderson.

In the letter, the lawmakers ask for a meeting with Feltman after Honda finishes initial hiring to discuss IEDC's policy about giving incentives to companies that don't open hiring to the entire state.

"We feel that this policy should be re-evaluated, and if necessary, the General Assembly should intervene and decide whether this is appropriate policy for the state of Indiana," the letter says.

IEDC said in a statement that it will respond to the letter and correct unspecified "inaccuracies."
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