Carbon Motors Flop Dims Connersville's Economy

Company Planned To Hire More Than 1,500 People

When Carbon Motors announced that it didn’t get the $310 million federal loan that would have created 1,500 manufacturing jobs in Connersville, the news was a major blow to the city, which has a high unemployment rate.

Carbon Motors had planned since 2009 to build high-tech police cars in Fayette County, but in a letter released on Wednesday, the company announced the Department of Energy denied its loan application.

"I went out and listened to what they had to say. People had a lot of hope (for the jobs),” resident Carl Sturgis said.

Fayette County leaders said they didn’t expect the loan to be denied.

“I think people are shocked and disappointed. The prospect of those 1,500 jobs coming to Connersville and Fayette County was something that this community had somewhat rejoiced for and was looking forward to,” Economic Development Chairman Pete Bell said. “To have the rug somewhat be pulled out from under you is disappointing.”

Residents said hope for a brighter economy in Connersville is slowly fading, RTV6's Eboné Monet reported.

“There’s nothing anywhere. There are no jobs,” resident David Case said. “It’s just devastating. You can see it on people's faces and it’s hard to talk to them sometimes. Everybody is going to leave and try to go elsewhere. One by one, Connersville is shutting down. It's really sad. It’s a big blow to Connersville, but we'll bounce back.”

William Santana Li, the company's chairman and CEO, blasted the administration of President Barack Obama, calling the federal program a "glaring failure … to create jobs that are clearly within its power to create."

"We are outraged by the actions of the DOE, and it is clear that this was a political decision in a highly-charged election year environment," Li said. "Carbon Motors simply appears to be the last victim of this political gamesmanship."

Li said he believes scrutiny of the program led to the loan's denial.

The company said it had gotten more than 20,000 reservations for the police car, the E7, and that it would try to find financing to move forward.

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