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Trump Strikes Deal With Carrier To Keep Jobs In U.S.


President-elect Donald Trump is delivering on part of a campaign promise to stop in Indiana air conditioning factory from moving to Mexico. The Carrier Company announced last night it's reached a deal with Trump to keep about a thousand jobs in Indianapolis.

Trump is set to announce details of the deal tomorrow, but the news is already making waves in Indiana. And as Annie Ropeik of Indiana Public Broadcasting reports, workers and business leaders were caught by surprise.

ANNIE ROPEIK, BYLINE: It's not clear just yet how Donald Trump and his vice president-elect, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, convinced Carrier to keep just under a thousand jobs in Indianapolis, but TJ Bray, who's worked as an insulator at the factory for 14 years, says he's shocked and relieved.

TJ BRAY: I mean this is unheard of, you know? This is crazy. So I'm glad he was able to do something to save most of these jobs.

ROPEIK: Most is actually just under half of the 2,100 jobs Carrier had planned to cut - probably closer to 800 positions, says Indiana AFL-CIO union president Brett Voorhies.

BRETT VOORHIES: I mean the feeling is uneasy. I mean people are just kind of anxiously waiting, cautiously optimistic I guess you could say about, you know, what the details are.

ROPEIK: There are a few things he thinks Trump and Pence might have done to change Carrier's mind. They could have mentioned the fact that Carrier's parent company, United Technologies, has big federal defense contracts. Or they could have offered up more state or federal tax breaks. The Pence administration already made Carrier pay back $1.2 million in those because of the move.

But Indian Manufacturers Association president Brian Burton says at least at the state level, tax breaks were never the problem. He says it's about the national cost of doing business. Carrier stood to save about $65 million a year by moving to Mexico, an amount state officials couldn't have come close to with tax incentives. And while Burton's encouraged to see the new administration getting a jump on a more direct approach to business issues, he says it's a double-edged sword.

BRIAN BURTON: You do not want your federal government to hold hammers over the business community. They - you want your federal government to create a positive business climate that encourages people to stay here and not move in the first place.

ROPEIK: And he wonders if the Carrier deal will set a precedent for other companies such as Rexnord, another manufacturer right up the road from Carrier. Rexnord announced recently it's moving a few hundred jobs to Mexico, too.

The good news about Carrier and uncertainty about Rexnord hung over local union president Chuck Jones in a strip mall pub near both factories. He said he was shocked, too, at the news Carrier had finally bowed to months of campaign pressure.

CHUCK JONES: The man stayed true to his word, and he delivered. Now, whether you're - or I'm not - I never was a Trump supporter, but the man deserves the credit for possibly saving 1,200 people's livelihoods.

ROPEIK: He'll find out how it happened at the same time as the Carrier workers and many state officials when Trump and Pence visit the factory tomorrow to announce more details of the plan. For NPR News, I'm Annie Ropeik in Indianapolis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Annie Ropeik reports on state economy and business issues for all Indiana Public Broadcasting stations, from a home base of WBAA. She has lived and worked on either side of the country, but never in the middle of it. At NPR affiliate KUCB in Alaska's Aleutian Islands, she covered fish, oil and shipping and earned an Alaska Press Club Award for business reporting. She then moved 4,100 miles to report on chickens, chemicals and more for Delaware Public Media. She is originally from the D.C. suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland, but her mom is a Hoosier. Annie graduated from Boston University with a degree in classics and philosophy. She performs a mean car concert, boasts a worryingly encyclopedic knowledge of One Direction lyrics and enjoys the rule of threes. She is also a Hufflepuff.