The Tipton County Council approved a $13 million incentive that members say will keep a solar panel company’s interest in buying the abandoned Getrag plant.

The council Tuesday night unanimously voted to create a bond, which will go to the trust that owns the plant at the corner of U.S. 31 and Ind. 28. The trust will use that money to lower the cost of the 90,000-square-foot factory by $13 million without losing money.

Before the vote, the council fielded questions during a public hearing about how the trust will receive the money and how long it will take.

The trust is a collection of contractors who built the plant, but Getrag Transmission Manufacturing LLC and Chrysler LLC did not pay. After the companies filed for bankruptcy, a judge turned over ownership to the contractors.

An attorney negotiated the $13 million bond with the trust.

“Apparently, they’ve accepted that from their side,” Council President Brad Nichols said. “Otherwise they wouldn’t be proposing it.”

County Commissioner Mike Cline said during Tuesday’s meeting the incentive was necessary to keep Tipton County in the running for the solar panel company’s new location.

“We needed that $13 million to sweeten the deal,” he said.

Few companies are willing to buy such a large factory and not have it on an interstate, he said. The company is looking at other sites.

“I think the potential of 850 jobs, and all those other factors in, $13 million is a good investment,” Nichols said.

The county has created a Tax Increment Financing district to pay for the 20-year bond.

TIFs are areas local governments create to pull property taxes from to fund special projects. Public projects and building are expected to increase property values and their taxes. The tax increases are then used to pay off the projects.

The plant has sat empty since 2008 when Getrag and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy and backed out of the almost-complete construction project.

If the solar panel company buys the plant, it would have a payroll of about $45 million, Commissioner Ken Ziegler said.

The company plans to hire locally and set up training programs with a local college or university, he said.

• Daniel Human is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He can be reached at 765-454-8570 or at daniel.human@kokomotribune.com.

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