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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, December 01, 2016 12:31 pm

Huntington awaits word on jobs after Carrier deal

Ron Shawgo and Brian Francisco | The Journal Gazette

Huntington officials were unsure Wednesday whether local jobs will be saved as part of an agreement Carrier Corp. has reached with the incoming Trump administration.

According to some media reports, the Huntington plant was not part of the deal.

United Technologies employs 1,400 people at Carrier in Indianapolis and 700 at United Technologies Electronic Controls in Huntington. The parent company announced Feb. 10 it planned to send those operations to Mexico over the next three years.

Details of the agreement are expected today, when President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence appear in Indianapolis.

The Huntington plant was not mentioned in a Carrier statement released late Wednesday afternoon.

"We are announcing today that Carrier will continue to manufacture gas furnaces in Indianapolis, in addition to retaining engineering and headquarters staff, preserving more than 1,000 jobs" it says in part. "Today’s announcement is possible because the incoming Trump-Pence administration has emphasized to us its commitment to support the business community and create an improved, more competitive U.S. business climate. The incentives offered by the state were an important consideration." 

The incentives were not outlined in the release.

Without naming their sources, Inside Indiana Business and Fortune Magazine reported Wednesday that the Huntington plant was not part of the agreement. Other media reports were unsure of the plant’s fate.

Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters said Wednesday he is optimistic.

"My sincere hope is if good news comes from Carrier in Indianapolis it will be good news for Huntington," he said.

Huntington’s UTEC plant makes controls for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration units.

After meeting with Trump at Trump Tower in New York, Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., praised the deal in an appearance on CSPAN. 

Coats, who acknowledged not knowing the agreement’s details, said American workers "woke up today and said, ‘My gosh, he’s not even president yet and he’s figured out how to save a thousand jobs.’

"It symbolizes more to come, and I think that there are a lot of people that are reassured the president here is going to look out for their well-being and their families’ well-being. So it is hugely impactful, much beyond I think the thousand, which we are really grateful for in Indiana, but that sends a message of accomplishment unprecedented."

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., welcomed the news but said there are hundreds of United Technologies workers who will still lose their jobs. He also noted other Indiana companies, including Rexnord in Indianapolis and CTS in Elkhart, that are planning to move Hoosier jobs out of the country.

"We need to change our laws to encourage companies to grow here at home, and I’m very hopeful that President-elect Trump will work with me toward this goal," Donnelly said in a conference call Wednesday.

Donnelly has introduced tax policy revisions that would prohibit companies from deducting from their tax returns those expenses related to moving jobs offshore, require companies to reimburse government grants and tax credits if they move jobs overseas, have federal contracting officers consider a bidding company’s offshoring of jobs as a negative factor and provide tax breaks to companies that move foreign jobs to low-income and rural communities in the U.S.

About speculation that United Technologies might have been threatened with the loss of federal contracts and a 35 percent tariff on Carrier products that are made in Mexico and sold in the U.S., Donnelly said: "Those obviously go right to the heart of their profits and their efforts. All we ask is that there be a fair deal for everybody involved here. I want United Technologies to succeed. I want them to do really, really well. But I also want their workers to do really well also." 

rshawgo@jg.net

bfrancisco@jg.net