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Toyota building plant in Hancock

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MOUNT COMFORT — A Japanese auto-parts maker will open its first plant outside Asia in Hancock County with a promise to hire more than 100 workers.

Officials with Tsuda Industries, which is partly owned by Toyota, broke ground Thursday on a site in western Hancock County just north of Interstate 70.

Joining them were Gov. Mitch Daniels and several Hancock County officials, who noted Indiana’s growing role in attracting Japanese automotive companies. Tsuda’s plant will be the third Japanese-owned parts plant in Hancock County alone.

Indiana is home to four Japanese automotive assembly plants and dozens of suppliers. Daniels, who has long courted the Asian market, pointed out that Indiana is the only state with two Toyota plants.

Tsuda makes drivetrain, chassis, body, engine, brake, gear shift and accelerator parts for Toyota and Honda, among others. The Hancock County plant will manufacture transmission, chassis, body and brake parts through a cold forging process.

The company will install more than 20 pieces of advanced manufacturing equipment, an investment of nearly $55 million. Total initial investment, including real estate, is around $65 million.

The proposal calls for about 115 jobs to be added over the next four years. Most of the positions will be in manufacturing and pay an average yearly salary of around $50,000.

Production would begin in 2014, with first-year sales expected to top $5 million.

The company predicts sales would top $50 million by 2020, according to its presentation Wednesday to the Hancock County Council.

Depending on the company’s growth, a second phase of the project could increase both employment numbers and investment. If the second phase does come to fruition, the total project would create 40 more jobs and bring the total investment to $111 million.

The U.S. plant will be Tsuda’s seventh location worldwide and first outside Asia. The company has three locations in Japan, one in Thailand, one in China and one in Indonesia, which opened this year.

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