• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Yokohama to add 134 jobs

Yokohama Industries Americas Inc. announced plans to hire 134 full-time employees for two new production lines and invest $5.2 million in new equipment at its Versailles plant. The company made the announcement Thursday, Sept. 29, through a news release from the governor's office. Yokohama has been in Versailles since 1989. At its Hose Division plant at 105 Industry Drive, about 300 workers make hose assembly systems for vehicle air conditioning, power steering and transmission oil cooler systems. At the Friday, Sept. 30, meeting of the Woodford Economic Development Authority, Chairman John Soper said the company had considered expanding plants near Cleveland and in South Carolina. "That's a big home run for us. One we really weren't expecting," Soper said. After the meeting, Soper said he believed the company would begin hiring for the new jobs within six to eight months. Yokohoma will also seek .5 percent payroll tax breaks for the additional workers from the city of Versailles and Woodford County. The breaks, which constitute a third of the payroll tax rate, would last for up to 10 years. Soper said Yokohama had previously applied for state incentives from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) for its Versailles Sealant Division (also on Industry Drive). Because Yokohama did not meet the 10-job threshold for new sealant jobs, Soper said KEDFA officials suggested the company revise the application with the Hose Division expansion and apply again. Soper said the company would convert existing warehouse space to manufacturing and, eventually, likely hire more than the 134 touted in the news release. Yokohoma Industries America is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd., founded in 1917 as a joint venture between Yokohama Cable Manufacturing and B.F. Goodrich, Co. "Yokohama Industries Americas Inc. appreciates the great support provided by Kentucky's Cabinet for Economic Development, the City of Versailles and Woodford County ." said company president Yasu Tajima. "We want to thank the . Economic Development Cabinet and Woodford EDA for their hard work, but most of all, Yokohama for their continued confidence in our community and its workforce," said Woodford Judge-Executive John Coyle. Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott called Yokohama a great corporate citizen, adding, "Their decision to invest more speaks volumes about all that our community has to offer and the workforce we have ." Soper said the company would include average pay projections for the new employees in its KEDFA application, which could be reviewed and approved by the end of the month.

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