Swedish manufacturing company Saab announced plans Wednesday to invest $37 million in a new facility in West Lafayette.
The location will produce Saab’s portion of the T-X military trainer jet. Saab and Boeing were awarded a $9.2 billion contract in September by the U.S. Air Force to train future pilots.
Saab President and CEO Håkan Buskhe says after looking at other potential sites for the plant, he felt at home in the Hoosier State.
“In the end, of course, it’s technical things. But also, it’s people-driven – how you make your decisions” says Buskhe.
Buskhe says research opportunities and an airport near the plant were major draws for the location.
“So, of course it’s the production and further development of the T-X, but also we see great possibility to spend and invest in research and development,” says Buskhe. “We are one of the largest investor in research and development as a defense company especially in Europe and we do a lot of investment in the United States as well. So I see great opportunity to increase that with the environment here.”
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation – pending approval from its board – will offer the company up to $5 million in conditional tax credits and training grants. Local tax abatements and incentives were also offered to Saab.
Gov. Eric Holcomb says this is a step forward not only in the state’s manufacturing, but also its defense industry.
“Someone has got to make widgets, but this is higher calling and purpose and that. You’re enabling us in the work that you do to make the world a safer place. To equip our war fighters with the latest cutting edge technology,” says Holcomb. “We’re in a state where we are number one in terms of manufacturing, increasingly so into advanced manufacturing and you have taken it, if I could borrow a phrase, to the next level in cutting edge technology.”
Saab will become a part of Purdue University’s growing Discovery Park District Aerospace – a long-term project to invest $1 billion into 176 acres on the west side of campus. Purdue University President Mitch Daniels says Saab becomes the third major investment in the technology park following Rolls-Royce and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.
“The possibility for laying on top of a first rate manufacturing facility, a research partnership that may wind up in areas very far removed from the immediate purpose of this plant,” says Daniels. “I’d like to think that was in our many conversations, I think the company indicated that was what gave us a dimension that many other contestants didn’t have.
The company says it plans to start production by 2020 and create initially about 300 jobs with the new facility and hopes to expand in the future.