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Tipton County Council okays abatements for Kokomo plants

by Bill Cawthon on

Kokomo-Welcome-Web Chrysler moved another step closer to the setting up shop in the former Getrag Transmission Plant as the Tipton County council unanimously approved a ten-year personal property tax abatement worth $2.5 million.

The Kokomo Tribune reports the council approved the abatement request because the automaker plans to invest $162 million in the never-used, 800,000-square-foot building at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Indiana 28.

Chrysler will eventually create 850 new jobs in the area building a new nine-speed trasmission at the facility, possibly beginning as soon as next year.

The new transmissions are needed to help Chrysler meet federal fuel economy standards phasing in beginning in 2016, said Brian Harlow, senior manager of powertrain operations.

“We’re moving into new transmissions with eight and nine speeds to improve engine performance,” he said.

“We’ve run out of room in Kokomo,” he added. “We need to expand production facilities quickly.”

“I’m tickled to death this opportunity came back to us,” Councilwoman Beth Roach told the Tribune. “This will be a great partnership.”

Rick Hall, an attorney representing the county, noted that no public hearing is required as the site was previously designated as an economic revitalization area.

Chrysler officials said the company is still haggling over price with W.W. Reynolds, the building’s owner. The plant structure went on the market earlier this year with an asking price of $39.5 million.

The county approval is only part of the picture of Chrysler expansion in the area.

On Monday, the Kokomo Common Council approved a separate ten-year tax abatement to persuade Chrysler to invest another $212 million in its Kokomo operations. This could create 400 new jobs while retaining 3,400 existing positions.

Read the Kokomo Tribune article • Learn more about the new 9-speed transmission

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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