The symbolism couldn't be more dramatic for Springfield, Ohio, as Topre America Corp. builds its expanding steel parts plant about a mile from downtown.
The western Ohio industrial town, home of an International Harvester truck plant in the 1980s, had lost more than 20,000 blue-collar jobs between 1990 and 2014. The Harvester plant closed in 2002, and the site was cleared in hopes of attracting new industrial development.
But none came.
That is, until late in 2016, when Topre, a fast-growing Japanese supplier of large, high-strength steel auto parts, decided to build a small $10 million, 20-employee plant on the old Harvester site to supply Honda of America nearby in East Liberty, Ohio.
But the original plan took wing. Barely more than a year later, Topre has expanded the plans twice, most recently last month, when it boosted the overall project to a $130 million investment that will require 289 employees when up and running in 2020.
What drove Topre's additional investment?
It was partly the idea of helping to restore Springfield's industrial base by investing in a spot where that history took place, according to Brad Pepper, Topre America vice president.
"As we started listening to the history and spent more time in Springfield," Pepper told Automotive News, "the nostalgia of the whole situation started to resonate with our group. It made sense that 'Hey, this is a chance to go in and revitalize the site,' because it's never going to be used for anything else but manufacturing," Pepper said.