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Published: Wednesday, 11/16/2011

Kasich: ‘Exciting’ news on tap in northern Ohio

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich Tuesday held out “exciting” announcements by Chrysler Group LLC in Toledo and Republic Steel in Lorain expected Wednesday as an example of an Ohio “coming to life.”

“I’m going to have some significant announcements tomorrow up in the northern part of Ohio, very significant announcements,” he told members of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.

Chrysler, after winning a series of state and local tax incentives and grants, is expected to announce a $365 million expansion and possibly 1,100 new jobs at its Toledo Assembly complex. The governor’s office confirmed that he will be in Toledo and Lorain for separate announcements Wednesday but would offer few additional details on either.

The Toledo Assembly announcement, which Chrys­ler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne is to attend, has been long awaited by the work force after the automaker early this year talked to state and local officials about prospects for expanding the plant that now makes the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro compact sport utility vehicles.

The details of the company’s plans, revealed by The Blade in August, stem from Chrysler’s plans two years ago, which provided the basis for Toledo Assembly to possibly make up to six vehicles, including the Jeep Wrangler and Liberty.

The Nitro, built on the same platform as the Liberty, is not scheduled to be made past the end of the year. It is unclear whether Mr. Marchionne will reveal its replacement.

Mr. Kasich told reporters after his speech, “Come on out. We’ve got a lot of things in the queue. I wasn’t kidding you. … It’ll be a good day in Toledo … and a really kind of unbelievable day in Lorain, an announcement that I think is going to kind of shock some people.”

In its requests for state and local assistance, Chrysler has talked about adding a second shift at the complex’s factory that makes the Liberty and the Nitro and an $8 million expansion of the factory that could also make additional vehicles.

The governor plans to attend the Toledo announcement at 10 a.m. and the Republic Steel event at 1 p.m.

“I went up to Detroit after the election and I had one of the big car company executives shaking his finger at me about how Ohio is failing,” Mr. Kasich said. “Ford is going to invest a billion in Ohio, $2 billion in Michigan. Everybody else is beneath us.

“Chrysler is going to have more things to say. Stay tuned,” he said. “And General Motors, they like their plant. They upgraded it. Advanced manufacturing may be alive and well in the state of Ohio. We need to focus on it, and we need to bring it back.”

Mr. Kasich’s speech focused primarily on his victories in his first year in office—creation of the quasi-private Jobs­Ohio economic development corporation, balancing the state budget, taking on nursing homes, and sentencing reform.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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