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Kettering lands 300 new jobs for manufacturing plant

Tenneco to invest $61 million at Kettering site that already is home to more than 400 workers.

Tenneco will nearly double its Kettering workforce, adding 300 jobs as part of a $61.5 million investment that significantly expands the plant.

For more than two and a half years, Tenneco has been in discussions with Montgomery County to expand its Kettering Engine Facility, according to Mitchell Heaton, the JobsOhio project manager.

Tenneco officials confirmed the move Friday, saying that the investment in its Kettering plant is part of an initiative to realign its manufacturing footprint “to enhance operational efficiency and respond to changing market conditions and capacity requirements.”

Gregg Gorsuch, economic development manager for the city of Kettering, said the new jobs will come with a strong wage.

“The hourly jobs that are part of those 300 positions will have a salary of about $20 per hour,” Gorsuch said. “It’s a very good day in the city of Kettering.”

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Kettering’s win will come at the cost of two plants in Hartwell, Georgia, and Owen Sound, Ontario, which will close in the second quarter of 2020, according to Tenneco. Last month the company also closed a plant in Nebraska, causing the loss of 500 jobs.

“We recognize the impact this action will have on our employees, and are working with the local communities to provide transition assistance for all affected employees, including opportunities to transfer to other Tenneco locations,” said Brian Kesseler, Tenneco co-CEO.

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Tenneco Automotive Operating Company’s investment in Kettering includes the addition of machinery structure to support overhead cranes and other equipment that has already taken place. The more than $20 million investment yet to come includes buying new equipment and modernizing the plant, Heaton said.

That investment will bring at least 300 jobs for line workers, engineers and back office staff, Heaton said, adding to the company’s 400-plus current Kettering employees. Some workers with be relocated to Ohio after their plants close, but a bulk of the jobs will be new hires.

“That kind of depends on the market, they could get even bigger,” Heaton said. “It’s really impactful.”

The deal to get the jobs to come to Kettering involved a collaborative effort between city officials, Montgomery County, the Dayton Development Coalition and the state of Ohio, Gorsuch said.

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“It was a team effort to get together and speak with Tenneco about getting those jobs here,” Gorsuch said.

While Heaton couldn’t give specific numbers since deals aren’t finalized, the company is expected to receive incentives from the state, JobsOhio, the city of Kettering and Montgomery County, in addition to other assistance including help in finding and developing a valuable workforce. The project is contingent upon the approval of state and local incentives.

One of the incentives is a $500,000 Montgomery County EDGE grant, that was announced in 2017. The EDGE grant is for infrastructure that can’t be picked up and moved like parking lots.

“Montgomery County was out ahead of it to know exactly their part, but all the other details took a while to come together,” Heaton said.

The Miami Valley is a powerhouse of sorts for manufacturing, with more jobs added in that sector in the last month in Ohio than any other, pushing the state to record employment.

“We are proud of the thriving manufacturing economy in Kettering,” said Kettering Mayor Don Patterson. “We dedicate considerable resources to securing new, well-paying jobs for our community and once again our ideal location, world-class amenities and sought-after workforce will result in a significant business expansion at Tenneco.”

Tenneco is located in the old Delphi building, which Heaton said closed on a Friday in 2008, and Tenneco started operation the following Monday.

“Kettering has not seen a dramatic downturn as some of the other facilities in town, so Tenneco has been awesome as a corporate citizen,” he said.

MORE: Kettering approves Tenneco grant, other projects for 2017

The plant at 2555 Woodman Drive, makes shock absorbers and struts primarily for General Motors passenger vehicles. The plant also supplies sister Tenneco facilities in North America and, and a foreign automaker’s North American plant. Tenneco has more than 31,000 employees worldwide.

“Tenneco’s investment demonstrates manufacturing continues to remain strong in Montgomery County and the Dayton Region,” said Montgomery County Commission President Deborah Lieberman.

She praised the local coalition that worked to land the expansion.

“We were able to quickly respond to the company’s needs, lowering their costs, and offer a location that allows optimal access to their customers,” she said.

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