Kia plant could mean more jobs for area

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 17, 2006

Sunday night's announcement that Kia Motors Corp. would build a $1.2 billion automobile manufacturing plant in West Point, Ga., is a big boost for Butler County as well, according to officials.

The plant is scheduled to start production in August 2008 and because Hyundai Motor Co. is Kia's parent company, more jobs could be generated for Butler County's own automotive suppliers, Hysco and Hwashin, said Ricky McLaney, Executive Director for the Butler County Commission for Economic Development.

&#8220Personally, I think we're going to see our suppliers expand and grow, as well as the trucking companies who serve those suppliers,” said McLaney. &#8220They'll all benefit from this announcement. Because of Kia, I think we could see anywhere between 250 and 300 new jobs in Butler County.”

McLaney said he has been in contact with officials in Chambers County, home to cities like Lanett and Valley that sit just inside Alabama near West Point.

&#8220They're asking about some of the things we went through when Hyundai announced,” said McLaney. &#8220One of the things I told them was to be sure they keep their website updated because that's usually the first thing these suppliers look at in Korea. Also, I told them to try and find a billboard in the interstate and put up a welcome sign, like we did near Greenville.”

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon said Kia's announcement is exciting news for the city and county.

&#8220There's been a lot of talk that the suppliers could double in size,” said McLendon. &#8220We want to be prepared and be kept updated on what's going on. Hopefully, our suppliers will benefit from this and expand.”

Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said Kia coming to Georgia was the &#8220next best thing” for Alabama.

&#8220Kia's parent company, Hyundai, is already producing automobiles in Montgomery,” Sessions said in a prepared statement on Sunday. &#8220Kia's move to West PointŠwill provide a huge boost to the economies of east Alabama and west Georgia and further cement the notion that the southeast has become the new American auto manufacturing hub.”