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Parts maker to expand to Toledo, add 84 jobs

2 sites in city limits under consideration

A Michigan-based auto parts supplier founded by former Detroit Pistons basketball player Vinnie Johnson plans to open a facility in Toledo that is expected to create 84 jobs.

Steve Hayworth, president of Piston Automotive LLC, confirmed Monday that the company expects to begin operations in the middle of 2013. The plant will be within Toledo city limits, though officials have not announced the exact location.

"We have two sites selected, and we will probably try to finalize that in the next week," Mr. Hayworth said.

Mr. Hayworth said the decision to open a facility in Toledo was related to a new customer contract, but he declined to elaborate.

Documents from the Ohio Tax Credit Authority, which on Monday approved a 50 percent, six-year tax credit for Piston, show the company will be a supplier for the part of Chrysler Group LLC's Toledo Assembly complex that is being retooled for a next-generation Jeep sport utility vehicle expected to launch in the second quarter of 2013.

The tax credit authority said the project "will help to enable the company to assemble and sequence automotive parts (brake corners, strut modules, spring modules)" for Chrysler.

The tax credit is contingent on Piston keeping operations in Toledo for at least nine years. State officials said Ohio was competing with Michigan for the project.

The state said Piston plans to renovate a building and bring in new machinery and equipment.

Documents from the state said Toledo has offered a Toledo Expansion Incentive and a Toledo Municipal Job Creation Tax Credit to the project.

The 84 jobs are expected to generate $2.2 million in annual payroll within three years of start-up.

Mr. Johnson founded Piston Automotive in 1997. The company supplies parts for Chrysler, Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Co. It has four manufacturing plants and about 300 employees.

The Toledo location would be the company's first in Ohio, officials said.

Mr. Johnson played with the Detroit Pistons from 1981 to 1991, helping the team win NBA championships in 1989 and 1990.

The tax credit authority also on Monday approved a 40 percent, six-year tax credit to FedEx Freight Inc. for the company's expansion project in Northwood.

FedEx previously had said it intended to build a 135,000-square-foot facility in Northwood this year. State documents show that through the project, FedEx plans to create 30 jobs generating $1.2 million in annual additional payroll.

-- Tyrel Linkhorn

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