Hitachi to add 100 jobs in Berea, mayor says

jkegley@herald-leader.com, gkocher1@herald-leader.comAugust 26, 2011 

Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas in Berea, which recently secured a contract to manufacture components for the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid vehicle, will soon begin hiring for about 100 new manufacturing jobs.

Depending on the success of the contract, that number could eventually increase to 500, Berea Mayor Steve Connelly said.

Berea City Administrator Randy Stone said Hitachi is expanding into a former Panasonic plant in an industrial park off Exit 77 near Interstate 75.

The expansion will be formally unveiled Tuesday.

The former Panasonic plant, which has been vacant for several years, is near a Hitachi plant on Mayde Road that employs about 1,000 people, Stone said.

The new production line will make components for the motor of the Volt, which is manufactured by General Motors Corp.

Connelly said the plant expansion has been discussed for about a year. A deal was struck "maybe 60 or 90 days ago," he said.

"Our city council probably six months ago passed an ordinance to authorize some of the state incentive programs" including reducing occupational license fees from 2 percent to 1 percent for five years, he said.

In May, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority board approved $4 million in tax incentives for the new location, which Hitachi estimated would cost $74.51 million.

Connelly said he hopes the focus on energy-efficient vehicles will benefit Berea's job market for years to come.

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