Updated: Wednesday, 06 May 2009, 3:57 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 05 May 2009, 5:44 PM EDT
CONNERSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) - The city of Connersville is courting an automaker and the more than 1,300 jobs that come with it. The city is located east of Indianapolis in Fayette County and is one of the finalists for a Carbon Motors plant.
Carbon Motors is trying to decide between Connersville and five other cities as it looks for a place to manufacture a patrol car called the E-7. Connersville rolled out the red carpet for Carbon Motors’ executives Tuesday night. The town has more than 15,000 people and most of them turned out to sell the city.
Connersville thinks it has just what Carbon Motors is looking for. Namely, it has the old Visteon plant. The plant shut down in 2007 and at one time, it employed 3,000 people.
"It was the lifeblood and it was the mainstream of this area for a long, long time," said Connersville resident Frank Handy.
Hundreds of people packed the former Visteon plant in Connersville Tuesday night to welcome executives from Carbon Motors.
"To see how this community pulls together is just overwhelming. It's a blessing," said Assistant Chief Dennis Perkins of the Connersville Police Department.
The community hopes they can convince Carbon Motors to choose Connersville over other locations such as Braselton, Georgia, Plymouth, Michigan, Charlotte, North Carolina and Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina.
"It would be a tremendous boost to our economy and our spirits," said Connersville Mayor Leonard Urban.
Carbon Motors Chairman and CEO William Santana Li seemed impressed by the turnout.
"This is the type of collaboration that reflects very favorably on the community and, frankly, the prospects for Connersville," said Li.
Carbon Motors is looking for a city and a facility in which to manufacture the E-7. Company executives unveiled the car to much fan fare.
"What we've developed here is the world's first purpose law enforcement patrol vehicle from the ground up, bumper-to-bumper just for law enforcement operation," said Li.
Tony Cartwright owns a Connersville restaurant called Kunkel's. He knows his restaurant would have even more cars in his parking lot if the old Visteon plant got a new lease on life.
"This community needs jobs. And I think you've noticed if you drive around Connersville there's a lot of empty houses and businesses starting to close. So it is affecting the community a lot," said Cartwright.
Former Visteon employees would love to see a rebirth of their old workplace.
"Oh, I'm thrilled," said Judy Houston, who worked at the Visteon plant 23 years. "I think it would be a wonderful opportunity for Connersville and it would just help the community grow."
"The people that are still within the working age, I think they deserve it," said longtime resident Frank Handy. "They're hard-working people. It's a good community and if anybody deserves it, we do."
Representatives from the offices of Senator Evan Bayh and Congressman Mike Pence are also in Connersville trying to help sell Carbon Motors on choosing the location.
Carbon Motors executives expect to make a decision in about a month.
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