Chrysler Group Hosts Obama and Biden at Kokomo with More than $1.1 Billion

Employees at Chrysler Group LLC’s Indiana Transmission Plant II welcomed President Obama and Vice President Biden. They toured the facility to celebrate the Company’s announcement that it would invest more than $1.1 billion locally for the production of future transmissions. The investment retains nearly 3,500 Indiana jobs.

The highlight of the celebration took place when President Obama shared stories of two Chrysler employees whose lives have changed because of this investment and with the support of his administration.

In a speech to a group of more than 150 employees and guests, the President spoke of Sharron Ybarra, 56, who was hired in September 2010. Ybarra previously worked for 20 years at the local paper mill, which shut down, and left her out of work for five years. Ybarra later found work at a communications company that pays $9 per hour.

The other employee was James Faurote who has been a Chrysler employee since 1998, who worked at the New Castle (Ind.) Machining Plant. In January 2004, Faurote was laid off when the plant closed. He relocated to Kokomo where he was in and out of work over and over during the past five years. It was not until after the bankruptcy that Faurote has been back to work at Chrysler. He is there now for more than a year.

The Chrysler Group has many plans for its Indiana operation. The company also confirmed that it is looking to invest $843 million in its Indiana Transmission Plants and Kokomo Casting Plant to accommodate the production of a new advanced front-wheel drive automatic transmission for future Chrysler Group vehicles. It would fund the installation of equipment and special tools to modernize the said plant. The project would extend the life of both manufacturing facilities and help retain nearly 2,250 jobs.

It will be partnering with Friedrichshafen, a Germany-based ZF Group, on the next generation front-wheel drive transmission. Friedrichshafen is making its designs and technology available to the Chrysler Group and its Kokomo plants.

Earlier this year, Chrysler announced that it would invest $343 million in Kokomo to expand capacity at its existing facilities and support the production of an eight-speed transmission while retaining nearly 1,200 jobs. These investments would make the city the recipient of the largest investment in a single year in a single community, pending the Kokomo City Council’s approval of Chrysler Group’s tax abatement application on Dec. 13, 2010.