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Guests at the historic Columbus Engine Plant, which dates back to the 1920s, included federal, state and local dignitaries, and about 200 employees, wearing red or black Cummins shirts.
As Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger announced the news on Tuesday about a new product and hundreds of new jobs, employees showed their pride and excitement with hoots and loud applause.
Cummins said it invested about $220 million in the project, though most of that happened several years ago as it planned to launch the engine late in the last decade.
The company received about $50 million in incentives at the time, including city tax breaks and state funds for workforce training and expanded curricula at educational institutions.
For Linebarger and Cummins, the announcement was tinged with redemption.
Early in the last decade, the company moved heavy-duty engine assembly from Columbus Engine Plant to Jamestown, N.Y. In 2006, it announced it would produce the light-duty diesel engine by the end of the last decade, primarily for the 1500 version of the Ram truck. But after Chrysler’s bankruptcy, the project went in limbo as Cummins looked for a new partner.
“We’ve had a lot of bumps in the road,” Linebarger said. “Definitely there is a big feeling of accomplishment.”
Each year that passed without a new anchor partner, the uncertainty about the product’s viability increased, and Linebarger said he often thought about whether to continue the project.
And as Linebarger thanked the employees for pushing him to stick with them and the product, he got choked up, saying, “I couldn’t be more proud.
“I definitely have some emotion about it,” Line-barger said after the presentation.
Retired Cummins President Joe Loughrey, who made the decision to move heavy-duty assembly to New York and to launch the light-duty diesel project at the same plant, said that as he left Cummins he encouraged the company to continue to pursue new partners for the light-duty diesel venture.
Loughrey was involved in some of the early conversations with Nissan in Japan and the U.S., as the companies were building their relationship.
Persistence paid off, Loughrey said via phone Tuesday.
“It’s exciting news (and) a really terrific product,” he said.
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