Think North America brings electric cars, jobs

“The RV Capital of the World” might be changing its name to “The Electric Car Capital of the World” as Elkhart County brings Think North America, an electric car company, to Elkhart, Ind.

Elkhart County has long been known for its ties to the RV industry. However, after the economic downturn and a reported unemployment rate of 14.5% in November, Elkhart realized a need for change in its economic focus.

Elkhart County worked hard to convince Think North America to choose an Indiana home front over contenders such as Oregon and Michigan. The hard work of county members paid off when Think announced on January 5th, 2010 that it would be establishing the first Think North America site in Elkhart.
Originally, Think North America was supposed to move into a facility in Middlebury. However, after conflicts with the move-in date and the size of the facility, Elkhart provided Think North America with a better facility option and a move-in date that satisfied its needs.

Think North America, a Norwegian-based company, plans to invest $43 million in a factory that expects to produce 20,000 cars annually. These cars can be used on the highway and are able to reach speeds up to 100 miles per hour on a single change. They are designed to have no tailpipe emissions and utilize recycled materials for their car designs.

As a part of President Obama’s Recovery Act, Think North America will receive close to $17 million in federal assistance. Indiana Economic Development Corporation is offering an additional $3 million in performance-based tax credits and several training grants for jobs.
Dick Moore, the mayor of Elkhart, said in an article in The Elkhart Truth, “We’re growing green and diversifying at the same time.  It’s exactly what we’ve been looking for.”

Think North America is one of 183 projects that are being funded by tax credits in 43 different states. The hope is that promoting projects such as electric car development will help to produce a clean energy sector booming with job opportunities.

Think North America is expected to create a little over 400 job openings at the factory with an average pay rate of $16 per hour.  One hundred of those jobs should be filled by this time next year.

Think North America is one of four electric car companies that will move into Indiana in the near future, along with two electric car companies already established in Wakarusa. The hope is that production will begin in early 2011.

Written by Brett Bridges

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