Kokomo Leaders: Chrysler Tax Breaks Fuel Economy, Community

City leaders say they don’t think Kokomo is becoming too reliant on the auto industry to help continue the area’s economic recovery.

Chrysler assembly line

Photo: Indiana Public Media News

Chrysler is investing in new equipment and technology in two out of four Kokomo plants, saying the move will create more than 400 jobs.

The Kokomo City Council has approved a $211 million tax abatement for Chrysler Corporation.  It’s the latest in a long list of abatements Kokomo has approved for the automaker, and comes with a company promise of adding more jobs in the city.

City leaders say they don’t think Kokomo is becoming too reliant on the auto industry to help continue the area’s economic recovery.  At the bottom of the recession, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight pushed a plan of economic development almost at any cost.

But as his city has more than halved its unemployment rate, it’s been able to give economic incentives to non-automotive employers.

Still, Goodnight says he prizes the city’s relationship with Chrysler and feels keeping the company happy is good for the city’s business, too.

“Chrysler’s been in Kokomo since 1937,” Goodnight says.  “It’s our largest employer, it’s one of the largest employers in the state of Indiana and…I don’t know, you never know, but obviously you want to continue that relationship.”

Goodnight says although Kokomo is heavily reliant on the auto industry and the city is always looking for ways to diversify, the possibility of more than 400 additional high-paying jobs is an opportunity Kokomo won’t pass up.

Kokomo City Councilman Kevin Summers says helping a company invest in new technologies, such as Chrysler creating more fuel efficient vehicles in order to comply with increasing fuel efficiency standards — is important for the growth of the community as well.

“I think it comes down to the companies requesting these abatements to help them continue to have growth,” Summers says.  “In addition to that I think the employment numbers are always an encouragement for us to also work and partner with the companies.”

Tipton County lawmakers are also set to approve an abatement for Chrysler to create a new plant that would create 850 jobs there, as well.

Kyle Clayton

Kyle Clayton is a WFIU news producer. He is currently studying journalism at Indiana University and comes to WFIU following an internship in the fall of 2011. After serving in the U.S. Army, he returned home to Indiana in 2008 to begin his education and pursue his interests in writing.

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