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Plant Expansion Will Mean More Jobs In Western Massachusetts

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WAMC
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U.S. Tsubaki will build a 100,000-sq-foot addition to its factory in Chicopee, Ma. that will create 35 new manufacturing jobs.

New jobs will be coming to western Massachusetts with the expansion of an automotive parts manufacturer in Chicopee.

U.S. Tsubaki is constructing a 100,000-square-foot addition to its manufacturing plant at the Westover Industrial Park. The $12 million expansion will add a new production line that will create 35 jobs.

Jay Ash, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, said manufacturing is seeing a revival in Massachusetts.

"We're encouraged by the discussions that local leaders have on manufacturing," said Ash. " There was a time when manufacturing was not looked on with the same desire as it is now."

In Springfield, Chinese rail car manufacturer CRRC is building a 204,000-square-foot factory that will employ 150 people.

Ash, the Baker administration’s top economic official, said a $1 billion stimulus bill passed by the legislature this year gives the administration “tools” it needs, including workforce training and financial incentives.

" Businesses are seeing that we have the talent and the connections to everywhere they need to be, so manufacturers are responding well to what Massachusetts has to offer," said Ash.

To entice U.S. Tsubaki to expand in Chicopee, the city approved a 10-year property tax abatement worth almost $250,000 and the state’s Economic Assistance Coordinating Council approved $525,000 in tax credits.  As a result, U.S. Tsubaki agreed to create at least 35 new jobs and retain 348 existing ones.

The Japanese-headquartered company had looked at other sites in Tennessee and Mexico for the new production line.

State Rep. Joseph Wagner, speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony, said the expansion project would not have been possible if not for cooperation between a Democratic state legislature and a Republican governor and between the state and local governments.

" Before the president-elect, Donald Trump, encouraged Carrier not to relocate to Mexico, Richard Kos, the mayor of Chicopee, was ahead of that curve and encouraged U.S. Tsubaki not to leave and go to Mexico, but to expand here in Chicopee," said Wagner.

Mayor Richard Kos said the city’s business climate is very competitive because of low taxes and low electricity costs.

" But as I've said on numerous times, another resource was extremely important and that was the human resource," said Kos.  " The productively and ability of the workers here in Chicopee and Western Massachusetts to get the job done in a way that made it worthwhile for U.S. Tsubaki to make that board decision in Japan to choose us over Tennessee and Mexico."

Dan Butterfield, president of U.S. Tsubaki said the company makes automotive timing chains for most of the major car companies.

" We do full manufacturing here ( in Chicopee) from raw material through assembly," explained Butterfield.

The expansion in Chicopee will result in more manufacturing space, a laboratory, and more office space.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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