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Honda, state leaders say Fayette County is 'attractive' place for company's $3.5 billion investment

On the 45th anniversary of Honda's first investment in the automotive plant in Marysville, the company announced another big investment in Ohio with plans for a new $3.5 billion plant.

Bob Nelson, executive vice president of Honda of America Mfg. told a crowd at the Ohio Statehouse that the company will work with LG Energy Solution to build a new plant to produce EV batteries.

"Today we are proud and excited to share with you our plans to construct a new joint-venture battery plant in Fayette County, Ohio," Nelson said.

Nelson said the location off Interstate 71 at U.S. Route 35 near Jeffersonville, 40 miles southwest of Columbus, is perfect for several reasons. He said there is land and infrastructure available. And because of its proximity, he said it can pull employees from many communities in Ohio.

"We are going to make a good work environment for those associates so we want them to be comfortable and want to come to work to produce our product and we have a good draw, a location to pull people from so we believe it will be an attractive place," Nelson said.

Fayette County welcomes Honda announcement

Fayette County Commissioner Tony Anderson was one of a large contingent of Fayette Countians who went to Columbus to take part in the big announcement.

"It may come as a surprise to some of you that I’ve never said thank you to a $4 billion investment in Fayette County before," Anderson said, prompting a chuckle from the crowd.

But it is a moment that Fayette County leaders have been planning for for decades.

Steve Luebbe, Fayette County engineer, said residents in that area have been working with county leaders, trying to spur economic development in the region by creating a site for a project like this.

"What we call the mega site has been around for about 20 years. It’s about 2500 acres that local property owners put together and we have been working with them for that long trying to amass the infrastructure that’s required to bring somebody like this to the community and we are just lucky that it was Honda," Luebbe said.

For years, Luebbe said, children who grew up in Fayette County didn't stay there once they graduated but said this development could change that.

“For a long time, the best and the brightest, they do leave town. You know I’ve got four kids and all four of them are now in Cincinnati going through college or out of schools working and it would be great for them to come back home and be closer to home and be part of a vision moving forward," Luebbe said.

Ohio leaders credit public policies for new investments

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said Honda's investment in Ohio, along with other recently announced projects like Intel near Columbus, are changing the state's image.

"What makes me proudest this year is we have finally buried the term rust belt. We have created an economy that puts American jobs, American production and workers first," Brown said.

Brown credited the federal government, and the Democrats who control it right now, for putting in place policies, to bring manufacturing home to Ohio and the U.S.

Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, credited state and local leaders for coming together to make the project a reality though he isn't specifying what incentives are being offered to Honda for this development.

But he is saying the state will make sure training is available at all of its colleges and through state workforce development programs.

"These batteries will be produced by your fellow Ohioans. They will be made at a brand new $3.5 billion EV manufacturing company. This new facility will bring at least 2200 new jobs to Ohio," DeWine said.

The overall project with LG Energy Solution will cost more than $4.4 billion.

Construction is set to begin in early 2023 with the facility being completed by the end of 2024. And the production of the batteries at the new Fayette County facility is set to be underway by the end of 2025.

Though the Fayette County location is the biggest investment the company is making right now, the company said it will spend $700 million to re-tool existing Honda plants in Marysville, Anna, and East Liberty so they can also produce EV's and their components.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.