Continental says it will move the research and development operations for its ContiTech division to this 22-year-old building in west Auburn, creating an estimated 46 new jobs. Photo by Dave Kurtz
Continental says it will move the research and development operations for its ContiTech division to this 22-year-old building in west Auburn, creating an estimated 46 new jobs. Photo by Dave Kurtz
AUBURN — Continental will move its ContiTech research and development operations to Auburn, creating an estimated 46 jobs.

Two ContiTech managers outlined the plan for an Auburn Common Council committee Tuesday night at City Hall.

Three technical centers now in Canada and Michigan will consolidate in a building at 207 West St., erected in 1998 by a previous owner, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.

“We are planning that to be a world-class tech center once again,” said Scott Bykowski, head of research and development for vibration-control technology and noise insulation for Continental North America.

Bykowski said he formerly worked in the 101,000-square-foot building for Cooper, which later closed the research and development operations there.

The 46 jobs created by the move will pay an average salary of about $72,000 per year, Bykowski told the council committee. The new employees will work in testing, prototype, design and product development, according to a news release.

The committee voted 3-0 to recommend a 10-year tax phase-in for approximately $4.25 million Continental will invest to renovate and equip the research and development center.

The Auburn Redevelopment Commission and the full Common Council will be asked to approve the tax incentive in meetings over the next four weeks.

“We have to invest in a whole new data center to run that Auburn campus,” including computer equipment, fiber-optics, presses and test machines, Bykowski said.

A news release said ContiTech plans to be fully moved into the renovated technical center by the end of 2024.

ContiTech specializes in vibration-control technology and noise isolation for the automotive industry.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. also will offer incentives to Continental in the form of $650,000 in tax credits. The company will become eligible for the credits when Hoosiers are hired.

Based in Germany, Continental has sales of $52.3 billion worldwide, with $7.5 billion of that for the ContiTech division, Bykowski said.

Continental purchased the Auburn research building and a manufacturing plant next door from Cooper-Standard Automotive in 2019.

Bykowski reviewed the history of the Auburn location and of Continental in a video presentation.

The Auburn plant on the city’s west side opened in 1896 as the Auburn Toy Co., producing rubber toys, he said. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. bought the factory in the early 1960s. Cooper’s Auburn operations made rubber automotive parts for vibration control, body sealing and fluid transfer hoses. In the 1990s, Cooper added two state-of-the-art mixing centers and built the technical center.

The plant was purchased in 2004 and became Cooper-Standard Automotive until last year’s sale to Continental.

“In 2019, we were very fortunate to join Continental as a part of their team,” said Auburn’s Plant Manager Richard Meeks. “We’re very happy to be a part of that team and excited about the opportunities that are in front of us.”

Bykowski said Continental began as “a little German company” in 1871. When he joined Continental in 2006, only 16% of its sales were outside Europe. Today, that share has grown to 56%.

Continental employs 241,000 people at nearly 600 sites around the world, with 46,000 employees in North America, he said.

ContiTech makes all rubber products for Continental except tires, Bykowski said. It operates at more than 30 locations in North America and is constantly developing new technology and new materials.
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