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Elkhart lands Norwegian auto investment

Uff-dah! It's been a long road, but after many months of consideration, a Norwegian automaker apparently has chosen Elkhart as the site for its new electric car production site--a $43.5 million dollar investment that the company says will create 415 much-needed jobs in the recession-battered area.

According to a report by The Elkhart Truth, the Elkhart City Council was to meet Monday evening to vote on a proposed tax abatement package to assist Think, which had also considered production sites in Michigan and Oregon for the production facility.

A press conference is slated for Tuesday, including the economic development body for the county and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, is expected to make the official announcement. Coming nearly a year after President Barack Obama visited this northern Indiana county to unveil his economic stimulus plans--choosing the area to illustrate the depth of the economic crisis--Elkhart will have a moment in the spotlight for a positive development.

Think is to become the third electric vehicle manufacturer in the area. Navistar International Corp. plans to build all-electric delivery trucks starting next year with help from a $39 million federal grant. And Startup Electric Motors Corp. intends to make electric-hybrid drive trains to be installed in various vehicles, starting with a joint venture with Gulf Stream that would make light-duty electric trucks.

Elkhart has the manufacturing base, transport links and workers to do the job--thanks to the once-thriving recreational vehicle industry. Now the town needs only learn the toast to ring in some good fortune. As the Norwegians say: Skal!