Honda to add 200 Ohio jobs

National report saying manufacturing on rise comes out on same day Honda announces $200 million investment.

Honda of America Manufacturing will invest $200 million in to two Ohio plants and bring 200 new jobs to the region — another sign manufacturing is coming back.

The manufacturer announced Thursday that it will invest the money in its transmission plant in Russells Point and engine plant in Anna on Thursday to mark its 30th anniversary of U.S. auto production. Honda already employs more than 13,500 Ohioans, including nearly 1,500 workers from Clark and Champaign counties and about 1,200 more from the rest of the Miami Valley.

Honda’s announcement coincided with a report Thursday that manufacturing grew nationally for the second straight month in October.

Honda spokesman Ron Lietzke said the positions would mostly be in engine assembly and lathe machining — a tool that rotates material while doing operations such as cutting or sanding. He said wages would start at around $14 an hour, a rate that increases to $24 an hour in about two years.

“Any employer in our community or out in surrounding areas is critical to survival of the region,” said Sue Bailey Evans, director of both the Champaign County and Logan County departments of Job and Family Services. “As Honda has been looking at expansions, it affects the entire region … not just the county the plants are located in.”

Lietzke said the expansions represent the 30 years of production expertise and quality gained in Ohio. He said Honda produces about 90 percent of its product in North America now.

“All this investment leads to increased capacity for demand in America but also to meet demand around the world,” he said.

The Institute for Supply Management said Thursday that its index of factory activity rose last month to 51.7, up from September’s reading of 51.5. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The ISM is a trade group of purchasing managers.

The figure is slightly below the average for the year of 52.2. Other reports have suggested that manufacturing is slowing, hampered by less business investment and fewer exports. But the ISM survey points to continued, if gradual, expansion, driven by increased consumer spending.

Since a drop in production and sales last year after natural disasters, Honda has recovered and grown 36 percent in sales over last year.

And in the last 18 months, Honda has invested $500 million in Ohio manufacturing plants and added 150 new jobs.

Those include:

  • $166 million for a 195,000 square foot expansion and new and expanded assembly lines at East Liberty Auto Plant
  • $64 million for a 24,000 square foot expansion and new metal stamping capabilities at Marysville Auto Plant
  • $129 million for a 320,000 square foot expansion and new pulleys at Anna Engine Plant
  • $145 million to increase high-pressure die casting operations and add another line for production of the 2012 Accord at Russells Point

Stocks jumped after the release of the October supply management report, along with another report that showed consumer confidence surged last month to the highest level in nearly five years. The Dow Jones industrial average, which had already risen about 70 points after the opening bell, was up 139 points in morning trading.

The survey was completed before Hurricane Sandy disrupted business activity along the East Coast and cut power to millions of homes, an ISM spokesman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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