The Carbon Motors plant in Connersville may have hit a stumbling block because of the federal government's economic troubles.
As part of a two-year project, Fayette County officials had announced plans to bring more than 1,500 jobs to the community by opening a plant that would manufacture police cars.
It would give the Connersville-Fayette County community a much-needed economic boost, as the county has the highest unemployment rate in the state.
The project now hangs in limbo because a $310 million government loan earmarked for the plant may be diverted to help with the county’s Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster aid.
If Congress pushes the Department of Energy to loan money to FEMA to help disaster victims, it could turn the eastern Indiana town upside down.
Connersville Mayor Leonard Urban is trying to prevent an economic disaster, 6News' Rick Hightower reported.
"Everybody in Washington, including the president of the United States, tells us every night on every channel that jobs are No. 1,” Urban said.
Urban said Congress needs to leave the money earmarked for Carbon Motors alone.
"I understand that people have lost their homes (in disasters). I understand that, but we need jobs, and I would think they can probably find that money someplace else," Urban said.
Connersville has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs over the past eight years, leading to an unemployment rate of 12.2 percent.
Resident Jesse Jobe remains hopeful about the plans for the Carbon Motor plant.
"Everybody here in Connersville is hoping," Jobe said. "The economy is so rough right now. We would just like to see a little action to develop.”
Other residents were doubtful that the project would ever fully develop.
"I don't think the loan will come through at all. I think it's all just a big joke," resident Jim Snodgrass said.
Resident Gwen Smith agreed.
"I've been skeptical the whole time, hoping it would (open), but it's just really taking a long time to come through. I'm not surprised the news came out that the money may be going somewhere else," Smith said.
Urban said he's been in touch with the offices of Rep. Mike Pence and Sen. Richard Lugar to see if the goal was still in sight.
"They have people that are watching that loan and are interested. I think most of the state of Indiana is watching that loan," Urban said.
Urban said he remains confident in Carbon Motors, which he believes will eventually open its doors.
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