Hyundai chooses Alabama for #036;1 billion plant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 3, 2002

The jobs could be innumerable. The Black Belt of Alabama could be changed forever.

Hyundai Motor Company's announcement Monday night that they will build a $1 billion plant employing 2,000 workers near Montgomery left Greenville and Butler County searching for the right words to describe the full extent of the expected economic impact.

"This is great for our county," said Ricky McLaney, director of the Butler County Commission for Economic Development. "It will create traffic for economic developers in respect to suppliers and spin-off companies of the Hyundai plant."

Besides the 2,000 employees Hyundai will hire at the plant that is a mere 35 miles from Butler County, the company will pull an inordinate amount of spin-off industries with it.

"They'll have to make dash boards, car seats, radios, engines," said Jerry Victor, owner of Victor Nissan-Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep in Selma. His dealership also sells Hyundai cars. "Just about anything that goes into a car has to be built, and from what I know, the Hyundai installation will be an assembly plant."

Gov. Don Siegelman said he received a phone call shortly before 9 p.m. Monday from the president of Hyundai telling him the plant would be built in Alabama.

In the past decade, Alabama has been selected by Mercedes, Honda and Toyota for major assembly plants. The Hyundai plant could give another huge boost to the state's emerging status in the automotive industry.

It is a tribute to the people of Alabama that a renowned corporation like this would look to Alabama for a place to call home. It's a tribute to the state's world-class workers,'' Siegelman said.

Wayne Vardaman, executive director of the Selma-Dallas County Economic Development Authority, said the rule of thumb is that for every manufacturing job that is created, five "spin-off" jobs are created.

"With all the jobs we lost, we don't want to hear about any more lay-offs," said Daniel Robinson, chairman of the Butler County Commission. "We have a great workforce here in Butler County and we want people calling us for jobs."

"Proximity is very important and we just hope that these companies will give us a shot here in Butler County for locating their companies," said McLaney.

Hyundai has announced it will make 300,000 cars a year at its Alabama plant, with production set to begin in 2005.

According to Hyundai Factory Corporate Relations, a ground breaking ceremony is scheduled for April 16 and will be attended by Hyundai Automotive Group Chairman and CEO Mong-Koo Chung.

Editor's Note: Jonathon McElvy of the Selma-Times Journal contributed to this report.