By Austin Arceo, The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE - One of Terre Haute's largest employers will evolve to reflect the growing electronics market.

Sony Digital Audio Disc Corp. will undergo an estimated $75.8 million renovation to expand capacity for existing product lines. Blu-ray discs, which are used by the Sony Playstation 3, are a "next-generation" disc format meant for high definition video and data storage that are produced by Sony DADC.

The City Council voted last week to adopt two tax abatements for the renovations, which will allow Sony DADC to phase in the taxes over a decade.

The council still needs to confirm the abatements, or approve for a second time, next month before they become official.

"What you're seeing with these two resolutions is the continued expansion of Sony and ... a conversion over to the Blu-ray production," attorney Ric Shagley, who represents Sony DADC, told the council during the meeting.

"We're seeing a transfer of personnel from the older lines to the new lines," he told the council.

Sony DADC will spend an estimated $59.6 million in new machinery and equipment and an estimated $16.2 million to remodel and expand its facility, the abatement proposals report.

The corporation will retain 1,223 jobs worth about $53.3 million in salaries, according to the proposals. The expansion is estimated to start May 15 and end Oct. 1, the proposals added.

The proposals do not indicate that new jobs will be created from the renovations.

If the abatements are approved, the company would pay an estimated $2.9 million in new taxes, with an estimated $5.9 million abated, figures in the proposals indicate.

Sony DADC is the city's fourth-largest employer with more than 1,200 employees, the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp.'s Web site reports.

Michael Mitchell, executive vice president and general manager of Sony DADC, declined an interview on April 9, instead requesting a Tribune-Star reporter to fax questions to him.

Shelley Klingerman, spokeswoman for Sony DADC, said in a phone message left for a Tribune-Star reporter Friday that company officials decline comment. She said in another message left Wednesday that officials were unavailable for comment.

City Council president Jim Chalos, D-at large, called Sony DADC "a great partner" in Terre Haute. His father, the late Pete Chalos, was mayor when the corporation settled into the city.

"It's one of our major employers," said Chalos, who was one of the eight council members to approve the abatements, "so I'm very excited about any kind of expansion that they do out there."

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