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Honda: New Plant Will Be in Midwest

Honda officials say they've narrowed their search for the site for a new US plant to somewhere in the Midwest but declined to elaborate. State officials say they hope the automaker will expand its workforce in Ohio.

On Wednesday American Honda executives announced the development of a new hybrid, a new diesel engine and new plants in Canada and the United States. But early in the teleconference company spokesman Jeffery Smith said no one would say more about the new US plant than the few details he read from a statement.

"Please understand that we will not be going beyond this statement regarding this matter," Smith said.

The new plant will produce 200,000 vehicles a year and employ 1500 people. According to company vice president Larry Jutte the company has not made a final site selection. "We're in the final phases of our due diligence process for selection," Jutte said, "but it's very important that we do our job properly first before we make any kind of communication because of the significance of the impact to the areas that we are considering."

The Indianapolis Star reports that Honda is evaluating several sites in southeastern Indiana.

Ohio's economic development director, Lt. Governor Bruce Johnson, says Honda is considering locations in Ohio. But he says the company's selection process is extremely complex.

"We still have two very large 1500-acre sites in the game with Honda and but the issues are extremely complicated; there's an enormous amount of very detailed evaluation on the site and then they make a decision based on what's in their best interest," Johnson says.

Honda currently employs approximately 16,000 workers in Ohio and produces 680,000 vehicles a year in the state. The automaker says it also plans to spend $75 million to expand its engine plant in Anna in western Ohio, adding 40 jobs. Spokesman Jeffery Smith says a final announcement on the location of the new $400 million plant would be made "sooner rather than later." The plant is scheduled to begin operating in 2008.