When the Norwegian electric vehicle maker, Think, started looking for a site to build a U.S. assembly plant, it was deluged by offers from states and communities lined up coast-to-coast. In the end, it chose the Northern Indiana town of Elkhart for the plant, which will begin rolling out a version of the Think City two-seater next year.
These days, any deal that can deliver jobs and investments is likely to be greeted with gusto – and the offer of government assistance, and the Think project was no exception. In the end, state and local officials cobbled together a package of assistance worth $43 million for the battery car maker.
That certainly didn’t hurt, admits Think CEO Richard Canny, not for a long-struggling company that had just emerged, a few months earlier, from bankruptcy proection. But even with what he describes as a “competitive” package of incentives, the executive says that wasn’t the clincher when it came to choosing Elkhart. “You don’t choose a location just based on incentives,” Canny explains.
What sold Think was the fact that Elkhart had a pool of experienced labor – workers who were more than happy to get a good-paying job considering that the region’s traditional manufacturing base, the recreational vehicle, or RV, industry, has all but collapsed – along with an existing battery car infrastructure.