Autoneum bringing 220 jobs to River Ridge Commerce Center; facility will be first Tier 1 auto supplier in business park

Earlier this week, an automotive parts plant announced that it will bring another 220 jobs to the region by locating in Southern Indiana’s River Ridge Commerce Center.

Autoneum, a Switzerland-based company that makes acoustic and thermal insulation for auto manufacturers, selected the industrial park in Jeffersonville for a plant.

The 300,000-square-foot plant will be located on 23 acres recently purchased by an affiliate of Louisville-based Crossdock Development Inc. from the River Ridge Development Authority.

According to a purchase and sale agreement obtained from the authority, Crossdock paid $1.25 million for the land. Crossdock will retain ownership and lease the property to Autoneum.

First Tier 1 auto supplier at River Ridge

One Southern Indiana and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s office issued a news release early Wednesday confirming Autoneum’s plan to locate at River Ridge.

The release said the automotive supplier would be the first Tier 1 automotive supplier to locate within the sprawling 3,000-acre River Ridge development.

The site was selected, the release said, as a result of Autoneum’s customer base in the region, the area’s labor force and infrastructure availability.

Autoneum is a supplier for, among others, Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. — all of which have automotive assembly plants in either Indiana or Kentucky.

“Indiana has established itself around the world as the location of choice for businesses to invest and create jobs,” Pence said in the release.

“Our competitive tax climate, strong work force and unmatched infrastructure help global companies like Autoneum continue to recognize Indiana as a state that works for business.”

Autoneum officials addressed the company’s growth and need for the new facility. “This expansion of Autoneum’s production capacity in order to meet increasing customer demands is further evidence that our lightweight acoustic and thermal management products are indeed valued by our customers, the automobile manufacturers,” Autoneum CEO Martin Hirzel said in the release.

“This is even more so, since Autoneum provides products and technologies which focus on improving vehicle fuel economy and acoustics, a feature which is currently particularly demanded by the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers),” he added.

One Southern Indiana president and CEO Wendy Dant Chesser called Autoneum’s expansion “a good example of the resurgence of the automotive industry.”

The company is “precisely the type of long-term, job-creating employer we want to attract to our area,” Chesser said in the release.

Site work under way

The sales agreement says that an affiliate of Crossdock, which is led by developer Lee Wilburn, will construct the Autoneum facility.

Paul Wheatley, director of marketing and finance at River Ridge, said some of the pre-construction work on the site already has been completed.

He said the company wants to be operational at the site, off of Patrol Road just north of Catamaran Corp.’s 200-employee specialty pharmacy facility BriovaRx, by the start of 2015.

With Autoneum’s announcement, Wheatley said, River Ridge has begun expediting about $2.5 million worth of infrastructure projects planned around the Autoneum site.

Among the infrastructure work planned is running water lines, constructing an access road to the facility and the start of construction on River Ridge Parkway, which eventually would connect to the interchange being constructed as part of the East End portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project.

More manufacturers expected

That linking of infrastructure throughout the site is very important to luring new tenants, Wheatley said.

Autoneum’s location in River Ridge Commerce Center also could be a benefit to landing a future manufacturer at River Ridge.

The development authority for the commerce park has been moving forward to develop a potential megasite that includes about 1,700 acres — 1,200 of which is considered usable space.

Wheatley said River Ridge is developing the site with an automotive plant in mind, but it also is being marketed for potential use by a major steel or chemical manufacturer.

“The reason we’re using the automotive standard is because it’s the most rigorous standard,” Wheatley said. “I think River Ridge is an attractive location for an auto manufacturer.”

Wheatley would not discuss whether or not an automotive manufacturer has expressed an interest in locating at the River Ridge megasite.

Only about 450 acres of 3,000 acres the authority acquired from the U.S. Army since 1998 have been sold to developers.

River Ridge gains tenants

Autoneum’s RIver Ridge facility is expected to bring another 220 jobs to River Ridge. Another 200 jobs will come to the park when the Catamaran Corp. facility opens. Other tenants announced in 2013 include:

• Packaging materials company American Fuji Seal Inc., which anticipates hiring 50 to 60 people;

• A retail tenant, River Ridge Retail 1, which has not determined the number of employees that will be hired;

• Dayton, Ohio-based The Standard Register Co., which plans to create 360 jobs at the site by 2016;

• And America Place at River Ridge, which has plans for three warehouses in the commerce center and still is leasing its buildings that are being constructed.

As Business First reported late last year, River Ridge has more than 35 companies employing about 5,000 workers.

Crossdock and River Ridge

Louisville-based Crossdock Development Inc., developer of the Autoneum project, has experience working in River Ridge Commerce Center.

The company, led by developer Lee Wilburn, was involved in a deal that resulted in Inc.’s decision to locate a facility with more than 1,100 jobs at River Ridge.

The Amazon facility opened in late 2012.

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