One of Columbus’ largest manufacturers will grow even bigger when 71 jobs are added within the next three years.

Toyota Industries Corp. employs about 1,400 workers on its Columbus campus, and Wednesday’s job expansion announcement will reflect a 5 percent increase by 2019.

The jobs are being added at Toyota Material Handling USA (TMHU), the material handling sister company to Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing (TIEM), where the majority of Toyota forklifts sold in North America are built.

The sister companies’ buildings are connected on Toyota’s 126-acre campus in Columbus, located south of Deaver Road in the Woodside Industrial Park.

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TMHU, which employs 182 people in Columbus, moved its U.S. headquarters to the city in 2012 from Irvine, California, as part of a $4.6 million expansion. The company said it will be hiring salaried professionals in the TMHU corporate environment.

People hired into the new positions at TMHU on average are expected to earn more than double the state average wage of $21.21 per hour, or $44,226 annually, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corp., which announced the expansion.

The state of Indiana has offered TMHU up to $100,000 in performance-based training grants based on the company’s job-creation plans, but no local incentives are tied to the announcement, said Jason Hester, president of the Columbus Economic Development Corp.

The Skills Enhancement Fund grant, administered through the IEDC, is a reimbursable grant of 50 percent of eligible training costs, Hester said. To qualify for the full $100,000 in grant funding, the company will need to spend $200,000 on qualified training, he said.

Growing Asian investment

Columbus is home to 26 firms headquartered in Japan. The most recent Japanese company to locate in Columbus was Daiei Giken Kogyo Co. Ltd., a forklift component manufacturer and TIEM supplier, which opened in late 2015 with plans to hire five employees initially, and five more by the end of 2017.Toyota’s Wednesday announcement represents exactly the kind of outcome the Columbus community wants to see in economic development, Mayor Jim Lienhoop said Wednesday.

The company’s decision to expand, and its choice to do it in Columbus, is the result of the seeds planted three decades ago with outreach to companies in Asia, Lienhoop said.

Columbus’ 26 Japanese-based companies with investments and infrastructure here is second only to Indianapolis with 29, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. reports.

On a per-capita basis, however, Columbus has the highest concentration of Japanese investment in Indiana, Hester said.

Combined, the city’s three largest Japanese-based manufacturers — Toyota, NTN Driveshaft and Enkei — employ about 4,000 workers, he said.

“TMHU and TIEM each have great reputations as being a place that people want to work, and this latest investment further strengthens their standing in and around south central Indiana as being a preferred employer of choice,” Lienhoop said.

Hester and Lienhoop met with executives at the Toyota Industries headquarters in Karinya, near Negoya, in late August.

“It was a good visit and one we try to make each time we’re in Japan,” Hester said.

“We did talk about their business plans, but they don’t share with us all the details,” Lienhoop said. “What we try to do is keep Columbus fresh for them — to continue to be an attractive place for them to do business.”

Joining the Columbus officials on that visit were North Vernon Mayor Mike Ochs and Kathy Ertel, executive director of the Jennings County Economic Development Commission. Jennings County is home to North Vernon Industries Co., a component supplier for TIEM.

TMHU expansion

Lienhoop said Toyota delivered a big vote of confidence in Columbus by moving its TMHU headquarters to Columbus four years ago. TMHU added 79 new jobs since that relocation and is now investing in employee-focused initiatives to further strengthen its workforce, company officials said.“Relocating TMHU’s headquarters to Columbus was a great move for us,” said Tracy Stachniak, director of human resources and training and development at TMHU. “Indiana offers a robust economy, Midwest hospitality and an attractive overall lifestyle. It’s a great place to work and live.”

Adding another 71 jobs reinforces that commitment, Lienhoop said.

“We need to compliment Toyota, and particularly their management and their management style. They want to be an employer of choice in our region and we are seeing that play out in their expansion in Columbus,” he said.

In August 2015, the city approved a tax abatement in support of a separate $3 million investment by TIEM.

The company invested $16 million to construct a 50,600-square-foot addition to its plant to serve as headquarters for Toyota Material Handling North America. The project included a two-story office building, a new dining hall, a new storm shelter, a locker room and expansion space for Toyota’s on-site medical center for associates and their families.

Lienhoop toured Toyota’s soon-to-be-completed expansion, which includes a new Toyota Recreational Complex and a restaurant-style dining hall, describing it as a “remarkable place.”

That project resulted in the company hiring a minimum of seven additional design engineers, adding $525,000 to the company’s payroll, the company said.

Toyota celebrated its 25th anniversary of operating in Indiana last year, after locating its first North American forklift manufacturing facility in Columbus in 1990.

“Indiana’s economy is built for growing companies like TMHU,” said Gov. Mike Pence, who attended that anniversary event in Columbus. “TMHU chose to bring its headquarters here as our state was developing one of the nation’s top climates for job creation, putting Hoosiers at the helm of one of the top businesses in the heavy-equipment industry. Today, as TMHU announces that it is adding even more high-wage jobs for Hoosiers, Indiana stands as one of the top-ranked economies in the nation.”

Toyota Forklifts has been the top-selling lift truck brand in North America since 2002, generating revenue of $8.2 billion in 2015 and sales growth of 8.2 percent over 2014.

Among all states, Indiana has the largest amount of Japanese investment per capita, with more than 53,000 Hoosiers working at upwards of 260 Japan-owned business facilities across the state, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. said.

In March, the city of Columbus increased its economic development efforts by funneling more dollars into the Columbus Economic Development Board.

At Lienhoop’s request, the city is investing $150,000 annually in dues to the local economic development board for the next three years for increased marketing of the city to attract more businesses. The city had been paying $14,000 a year in dues.

Toyota's footprint in Columbus

Toyota Industries Corp. has four subsidiaries with operations in Columbus, where about 1,400 workers are employed.

Its campus has grown from 250,000 square feet when it opened in 1990 to more than a million square feet with the latest building expansion announced last year.

The Toyota footprint in Columbus includes:

TIEM — Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, the manufacturing arm of the material-handling business, which builds three- and four-wheel forklifts and other equipment. This division is the largest of the Toyota  companies in Columbus with about 1,100 employees.

TMHU — Toyota Material Handling USA, Inc., U.S. headquarters plus sales, marketing and distribution arm of the material-handling business, employing about 182 workers.

TINA — Toyota Industries North America, Inc. an American holding company providing shared professional services to all North American entities of Toyota Industries Corp., including information technology, accounting/finance, tax, internal audit, legal and human resources. It has about 30 workers

TIPA — Toyota Industries Personnel Service of America, a personnel placement service, which includes six executives.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.