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IN THE NEWS: Rep. Braun continues to downplay tariffs as Jasper businesses raise the alarm

INDIANAPOLIS – The negative impact of tariffs on Indiana’s economy is playing out right in Rep. Braun’s hometown of Jasper – but that won’t stop him from continuing to ignore the damage being done.

A report this week from the Dubois County Herald highlighted Jasper-based Kimball Electronics’ grave concerns about the impact the new tariffs will have on them and the local economy. In a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative, Kimball CEO Don Charron urged the Trump Administration to remove tariffs imposed on goods the company relies on and made clear that if no action is taken, they will be forced to close their factories, lay off Hoosier workers, and move production to other countries to cut costs. “Kimball Electronics will be forced to close one, and possibly two, of its U.S. manufacturing operations,” Charron wrote.

From the Dubois County HeraldTariffs bring added costs for Kimball Electronics

JASPER — Facing rising costs due to a slew of tariffs the Trump Administration imposed on imports coming to the U.S. from China, Kimball Electronics issued a letter to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative outlining concerns that the tariffs could cause the company to close one or two of its four U.S. manufacturing plants and move more manufacturing outside the U.S.

In the letter, which was sent ahead of Kimball Electronics officers’ visit to Washington, D.C. on July 24, Kimball Electronics CEO Don Charron urged the USTR to remove the tariffs from a handful of goods Kimball Electronics imports for its U.S. manufacturing and explained that while Kimball Electronics is dedicated to manufacturing in the U.S., it cannot absorb the additional costs imposed by the tariffs.

Charron also said that many of Kimball Electronics’ customers will likely ask for production of their goods to be moved to the company’s Mexico plant to cut costs.

Of the 39 customers Kimball Electronics serves from its U.S. plants, the letter said, the company expects at least 13 of them to ask Kimball to move their production in the next 18 months.

These 13 customers represent approximately 75 percent of the annual revenue for U.S. manufacturing locations.

“If this happens, Kimball Electronics will be forced to close one, and possibly two, of its U.S. manufacturing operations,” Charron wrote.

Between its four U.S. plants — located in Jasper, Indianapolis (two plants) and Tampa, Florida — Kimball Electronics employs 1,000 Americans and generates roughly $300 million in annual revenue.

The tariffs have challenged other industries as well. Tariffs on European steel and aluminum affect the construction industry and are likely to push prices up. Locally, the City of Jasper and the Jasper Public Library have to take the higher prices into consideration when planning the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center. Another effect of the steel and aluminum tariffs for Indiana is expected job loss. An analysis earlier this year from Ball State University estimated a loss of 1,647 manufacturing jobs in Indiana due to steel tariffs.

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