Navistar to add 300 jobs, will boost local economy

Navistar to add 300 jobs, invest $12.8M

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved Monday a 60 percent, six-year income tax credit for the manufacturer.

“This is a huge psychological victory for our community,” said Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Greater Springfield, during the tax board hearing.

Navistar plays a significant role in the region’s economy and employs between 1,400 and 1,500 workers at its Springfield manufacturing site, including management and contractors. Thousands of company retirees also live in the area.

The state tax credit application doesn’t specify what the new jobs are or describe the expansion project. But the project will give the truck maker the capacity to double the number of vehicles produced in Springfield, the application says, and most of the $12.8 million investment will go toward new machinery and equipment.

Officials at Navistar declined to comment Monday, but said more details will be available later this week.

The new jobs will mean $10.3 million in additional payroll and retain more than $38 million in existing payroll, according to the application.

As part of the agreement, Navistar will be required to maintain its operations in Springfield for at least nine years. It will claim the tax credit on revenue generated in Springfield.

Local officials will also try to recruit auto parts suppliers to the Champion City Business Park on Lagonda Avenue in Springfield, according to the state tax board.

“(Navistar) owned the land where our most recent Champion City Business Park was developed, Springfield City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said. “It would be just terrific if some of these new suppliers or jobs went to locate there.”

Local officials from the Chamber of Greater Springfield and the UAW Local 402, which represents the majority of workers at the facility, also declined to provide further detail after the public meeting.

“A project like this moving forward in our region is a great opportunity for jobs and growth,” said Marty Hohenberger, vice president of business development for the Dayton Development Coalition. “We’re doing all we can to support the project.”

The Springfield facility has seen a major swing of fortunes in recent years, after the manufacturer struggled with an engine technology that failed to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Navistar had as few as 300 workers in Springfield at the height of the Great Recession, but those numbers rebounded as the truck maker restructured and shuttered other facilities to cut costs and become more efficient.

Workers with the UAW Local 402 ratified a new contract with the company earlier this year that will be in effect until 2018. UAW officials said then that the deal would provide job stability and could eventually lead to more work in Springfield.

The job will also likely benefit other nearby companies that provide parts and other services to Navistar, Clark County Commissioner John Detrick said.

“These are all livable-wage jobs and they’ll be a good reason to move to Clark County,” he said.

Attracting jobs to the region is a constant battle, Bodenmiller said. Navistar’s investment will mean a significant boost, he said, both for residents inside and outside city limits.

“You work hard to get 50 jobs here so when you can get an announcement with 300 jobs or more that’s terrific,” Bodenmiller said.

Businesses like Homespun Blessings and Country Gifts, 5880 Urbana Road, rely in part on purchases from Navistar employees, owner Lenora Smedley said. A boost in employment also likely means more customers for her, she said.

“We have people from Navistar that stop here on their lunch hour or after work and it would be great to have more people come in,” Smedley said.

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