Last week, Chamber colleague Derek Redelman and I toured the impressive new Honda plant in Greensburg. We were joined by former Michigan governor and current National Association of Manufacturers President John Engler. The year-old, 1.3-million-square-foot facility is a state-of-the-art marvel of what manufacturing has evolved into with quality, efficiency, continuous improvement and worker satisfaction as key goals. The plant produces just under 400 Civics a day, including natural gas powered versions.
We were able to meet with Engler and Honda executives after the tour to discuss several topics. Engler said that Indiana has weathered the economic downturn better than many states and is well-poised to benefit from future manufacturing growth. The market for cars used to be 16 million to 17 million annually; industry leaders are hoping for 10 million this year.
Engler said that nationally there is a workforce skills shortage in many areas. Honda VP Rich Schostek said the company is happy with its workers in Indiana – more than 30,000 applied for 1,000 positions. Honda looks for good reading and math skills, as well as the ability to work in teams and communicate well. These are key abilities the Chamber has been advocating for to elevate the skills of Indiana’s workforce.
It was nice to get the perspective of a national manufacturing leader, as well as see one of Indiana’s more recent success stories.