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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, February 11, 2018 1:00 am

Auto parts-maker planning expansion, 120 jobs in city

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

A German auto parts manufacturer is promising a $23 million expansion in Fort Wayne and the creation of 120 jobs in return for tax incentives from the city.

ElringKlinger will spend about $20.6 million on manufacturing, logistics and information technology equipment, according to plans sent to the city. Documents the Fort Wayne City Council will review Tuesday say WC Holdings II LLC will spend nearly $2.5 million to complete a building at 2677 Persistence Drive that will be leased to ElringKlinger.

The project will create 120 full-time jobs with average annual salaries of more than $43,000, the documents say. New, annual payroll would total nearly $5.2 million.

In exchange, the city would provide tax abatements to save the holding company $422,000 and ElringKlinger $1.48 million over 10 years.

Plans will be introduced Tuesday and council members will vote on whether to approve them at a meeting later.

The proposal already has the support of some city council members.

Tom Didier, a Republican who represents the 3rd District, where the project would be located, said he typically supports abatement requests if proposals meet specific criteria set by city officials. He said he will consider the number of jobs being created and the length of the proposed abatement.

“This looks good but the final vote is not Tuesday,” Didier said in an email. “I should have no problem supporting this.”

Geoff Paddock, D-5th, also said he would likely support the request, noting the city can rescind abatements if companies do not abide by specific rules.

“This does look like a pretty substantial increase in jobs in this particular industry,” he said. “This is something I get enthusiastic about.”

Incentives can be taken back if operations at the facility cease or if the council finds it provided false information, documents say.

The facility will operate in a 60,000-square foot “spec” building constructed in 2016. Completion of the building is expected to start in March and finish in July.

ElringKlinger makes auto parts including cylinder and head gaskets and components for lithium-ion batteries. The company also builds products for fuel cells, according to its website.

It has facilities in North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. ElringKlinger has operations in the U.S. in Fremont, California, and Buford, Georgia.

mleblanc@jg.net