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July 17, 2007
NEWTON, IA - A Rhode Island company may build a factory here and employ more than 700 workers, a potential boon to this central Iowa town that's losing its largest employer in the fall.
TPI Composites Inc., based in Warren, R.I., could begin operations as early as next year, local officials said Monday. The company - which manufactures wind turbines, airport buses and military Humvee cabs - has not confirmed which product would be made in Newton.
The operation would help offset Whirlpool Corp. (nyse: WHR - news - people )'s decision to eliminate 1,800 jobs at its former Maytag factory and corporate headquarters in Newton. Whirlpool, which bought Maytag last year, will phase out the jobs by October.
"I think this is just an example of everybody pulling up their bootstraps and saying we're going to continue to thrive and move on," Bev Price, chairwoman for the Newton Development Corp., said Monday after local officials pledged support for the TPI project.
TPI - which has four factories in China, Mexico and the U.S. - is considering Newton and three other candidates to host its fifth factory. Company officials have not announced other possible sites.
TPI would pledge to create 723 jobs over three years, paying workers between $12.25 to $13.40 an hour, plus benefits, officials said.
The company is awaiting approval of more than $6 million in state and local incentives and could take up to three months to consider the deal, said Wayne Monie, TPI's chief operating officer.
"Iowa economic development folks have shared with us the vision of Iowa," Monie said. "They are interested in long-term stable manufacturing and high technologies and providing opportunities of support for companies who are expanding, as we are."
The state incentives plan includes a request for a $2 million forgivable loan, which the Iowa Department of Economic Development will consider Thursday. The agency will also consider tax credits under the High-Quality Job Creation program.
The local plan, worth as much as $4.4 million, could include the purchase of land and local tax breaks. A local nonprofit group also may agree to own the new building and lease it to the company. The package is still being negotiated by local and Jasper County groups.
The company is considering several sites in the Newton area for the operation. It is seeking about 40 acres to lease.
The building could add as much as $18 million to property tax valuations for the county and city, which could be used to finance the local incentives.