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Auto-parts maker to propose project

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MT. COMFORT — A Japanese auto-parts maker seeking to open its first plant outside Asia presented preliminary plans Wednesday for a manufacturing plant near Mt. Comfort that would employ more than 100 workers.

Officials with Tsuda Industries, which is partly owned by Toyota, shared their plans for the 155,000 square-foot facility with the Hancock County Council. Tsuda is seeking tax abatement on an initial investment of $65 million, and the council gave preliminary approval. The company will return next month for a public hearing and possible final approval.

Tsuda makes drive, chassis, body, engine, brake, gear shift and accelerator parts for Toyota and Honda, among others.

Neither the governor’s office nor the Indiana Economic Development Corporation would comment, but a news release said Gov. Mitch Daniels would make an announcement at 3:15 p.m. today at 2588 Jannetides Blvd., just north of University Loft.

That location was the subject of the discussion at Wednesday morning’s council meeting. It is just north of Interstate 70 between CRs 400W and 500W.

The project is being heralded by local officials as a boon for the local economy, and company executives received a round of applause from the dozen or so spectators at the meeting.

“We’re delighted,” said councilwoman Rosalie Richardson.

The proposal calls for 111 jobs to be added over the next four years. The majority of the positions will be in manufacturing and pay an average yearly salary of around $50,000.

If the project is approved, production would begin in 2014, with first- year sales expected to top $5 million.

The company predicts sales would top $50 million by 2020,

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