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More Honda jobs on the way

By Thomas Gnau, Staff Writer Updated 9:16 AM Wednesday, February 1, 2012 The pace of Honda’s investments in Ohio is accelerating. Honda plans to announce today a new “major investment” at its Anna engine plant in Shelby County . Also, the company said it will announce production plans for a new assembly line at its transmission plant in Russells Point in Logan County. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is expected to join Honda officials for the announcement at the Anna plant. A Honda spokesman said additional details will be released today. New jobs are part of the announcement, he said. The latest expansion plan follows last month’s announcement that Honda will resurrect the Acura NSX sports car, designing and building the “supercar” in a new plant to be built in Central Ohio. Honda has not revealed the new plant’s specific location. Honda has grown in the past 30 years to become a major economic force in Ohio. The automaker employs approximately 13,500 workers at its Ohio sites, including roughly 1,300 from the Dayton area and another 1,400 from Clark and Champaign counties. One of those sites is a parts distribution center in Troy. The Japanese automaker is investing more money in Ohio even though the company is having a tough year. On Tuesday, Honda said its profit last quarter fell 41 percent to the equivalent of $625 million as sales slid 8 percent. The company, hurt by the strong yen and supply disruptions from Thailand’s floods, also projected a sharply lower full-year profit and a 12.2 percent decline in full-year sales. Since late 2010, Honda has announced or embarked on investments in Ohio that exceed $500 million. Some of the previously announced investments include $70 million to add 200,000 square feet to the Russells Point plant, $64 million for a new stamping press at Honda’s Marysville auto assembly plant, and $44 million to renovate the East Liberty body paint shop. Mike Dodds, executive director of the Sidney-based West Ohio Development Council, welcomes Honda’s latest pledge to beef up its infrastructure and add workers. More than one-third of Shelby County’s approximately 50,000 residents work for manufacturers such as Honda, Emerson Climate Technologies, Cargill, Advanced Composites and NK Parts, he said. Dodds said a slowly improving manufacturing sector has helped cut Shelby County’s unemployment rate from 11.1 percent in January 2011 to 7.7 percent in December 2011. “They are our bread and butter,” Dodds said. Built in 1985, the $1.7 billion Anna plant has about 2,400 employees. In 2010, the facility produced more than 770,000 engines. The $425 million Russells Point plant, built in 1997, has about 1,050 employees and produced nearly 600,000 automatic transmissions in 2010. Dodds said Honda’s plans impact “residual business,” including Ohio suppliers. Honda has 150 Ohio suppliers and has made $33 billion in purchases from those suppliers during the past five years, Honda has said. “We consider ourselves very lucky,” Dodds said. Jeff Hoagland, president and chief executive of the Dayton Development Coalition, said the recent announcements from Honda signal confidence in the state’s tax structure, work force and business environment. “It’s like sports — success breeds success,” Hoagland said. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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