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Startup Company Planning $350 Million Police Car Plant in Indiana

Carbon Motors Corporation, a startup company that will manufacture high-tech police vehicles, has selected a vacant former auto parts plant in Connersville, Indiana, as the site of its first production facility. The Indianapolis Star reports that the Georgia-headquartered company plans to invest $350 million and create up to 1,550 new direct jobs when the factory begins operations in 2012, with up to 10,000 indirect jobs anticipated. Connersville was once known as "Little Detroit" for its hundreds of auto parts companies and suppliers, but the area has lost more than 8,000 industrial jobs over the past 20 years and has an unemployment rate of 15.9 percent, among the highest in the state. Carbon Motors plans to manufacture a vehicle it says will be "purpose-built" for law enforcement, with such features as automatic license plant recognition, touch-screen computers, and a top speed of 155 miles per hour; it will also run on biodiesel. "We're going to take this shuttered old plant and turn it into something everyone can be proud of," said William Santana Li, the company's CEO, at an announcement rally, quoted by the Star. "We've got a long road ahead of us. It's going to take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to make it all happen." The Star says the company will apply for federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, but has not disclosed how it will acquire the necessary funding if the loan does not come through. State economic development officials tell the Star that there are issues about the location that must be addressed before the deal can proceed or incentives can be discussed, including undisclosed environmental concerns and problems raised by the former occupant's recent bankruptcy. Local governments have already approved resolutions backing tax increment financing bonds worth more than $6 million.

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