Toledo tries to secure Chrysler expansion project

Jeep Liberty assembly line / file photo

New jobs and more vehicles may be in the near future for Chrysler's Toledo Assembly complex. The company indicated in a statement on Thursday that the company was working with state and local officials to secure incentives to make the expansion possible.

The expanded production will take place at the Toledo North Assembly plant which currently assembles the Jeep Liberty and the Dodge Nitro. More than 1,000 new jobs at the plant are possible. With around 70 workers currently laid off, around 900 new workers would have to be hired off the street for the new positions. The jobs would pay $14.65 under Chrysler's tiered wage system.

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Without a final deal in place, there are no positions to fill at this time. However, when the plant begins to accept applications, they will be taken online at It is expected that the company will add an entire shift at Chrysler North.

Local and state officials have been working for months to secure incentives for the automaker to invest in an expansion at its Toledo plant. Offers already being made include certain tax credits and exemptions, speeding up certain permit approvals and by waving or reducing certain fees.

"The incentives are the icing on the cake. We do have competitors offering similar incentives and so we want to make sure that Chrysler sites it here," said Deputy Mayor of Toledo Tom Crothers.

The first hints on an expansion and the potential for new jobs were first revealed in January 2011 when Chrysler filed a draft permit, with the Ohio EPA, to install improvements to the body and paint shops in the event of an increase in vehicle production to approximately 327,000 units per year -- more than tripling the current output.

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Since then, Chrysler officials have negotiated with the state of Ohio and local government officials for incentives to expand employment and output. Toledo Deputy Mayor Tom Crothers met with Toledo Public Schools officials Thursday to secure their cooperation in offering incentives.

The City of Toledo has offered Chrysler more than $16 million in incentives including job creation tax credits, assistance with permit preparation, infrastructure upgrades to water, sewer and roads, and cash grants.

The state of Ohio has offered an incentive package as well, but would not disclose the details, citing ongoing negotiations.

At the federal level, Rep. Marcy Kaptur issued a statement indicating that her office would continue to focus on helping Chrysler obtain federal loans to assist with the expansion.

The expansion is confined to the Toledo North Assembly plant. The company has not made any announcements regarding expansion at the Jeep Wrangler assembly plant which is barely meeting demand for the popular Wrangler.

Construction began on the Chrysler Assembly Complex in 1997 when then DaimlerChrysler officials deemed the 80 year old facility on Jeep Parkway obsolete. Since construction was completed, various suppliers such as Kuka International, Johnson Controls, and Decoma Systems have constructed plants in the vicinity, creating one of the country's first assembly campuses.

UAW Local 12 President is confident those companies will also benefit from an expansion by Chrysler saying, "Faurecia, Johnson Controls and the other companies that produce for Jeep, assuming they will get the work, they will be adding people too"

On June 3, President Barack Obama visited the plant and met with workers there. He hailed Chrysler and the Toledo operation as prime examples of the success of the federal government's bailout of the auto industry which faced bankruptcy in 2009.