Welcome home, Hyundai!

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 17, 2002

It's official.

Hyundai Motor Company now can officially call Alabama home after Tuesday's groundbreaking that was held at the company's new site in Hope Hull.

Several state and federal officials attended the ceremony and gave thanks to Hyundai for choosing Alabama for that site.

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Mong Koo Chung, chairman of the Hyundai Automotive Group, was the first to address public officials, business owners and visitors to the groundbreaking ceremony. "Today is a historic day, when Hyundai and the State of Alabama join hands in opening a new chapter in the world's automotive industry. Together with its sister company, Kia Motors, Hyundai Motor Company is the world's seventh largest car maker, manufacturing and selling more than three million units per year in 190 countries around the world.

"At the very heart of Hyundai's active globalization strategy lies the State of Alabama. The new plant will transform Hyundai Motor Company into a true American company, returning our American customers' support with enhanced quality and service," said Chung, who then thanked Gov. Don Siegelman

and the State of Alabama for "their remarkable work in the decision making process."

Siegelman followed Chung's address and said, "We are going to teach Alabama and the world how to speak Korean and we are going to start with one word


"Last November, I took my Thanksgiving holiday and traveled to Korea to meet with Chairman Chung, President Kim and others. Today, miles and oceans no longer separate Alabama and Korea. Today, Alabama and Hyundai are one.

"Today, Alabama and Hyundai are united

united as neighbors, united as friends, united as partners. United by one quest

to build the finest Hyundai automobiles with the highest quality for the world. And Alabama will do it.

"Three and a half years ago, world business leaders would not have believed that Alabama would be at the top of the list of every automotive manufacturer in the world. But today, world business leaders have now been enlightened

enlightened with what Hyundai and others have learned

that Alabama is a great place to do business," said Siegelman.

"Hyundai brings 2,000 jobs. Hyundai brings opportunity from Alexander City to Phenix City, from Auburn to Dothan, from Brewton to the Black Belt, from Clanton to Selma, from Greenville and Centerville and Monroeville, and all across this great state. Hyundai brings hope and you can't put a price on that."

Also speaking at the event was U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions. "On behalf of Sen. Richard Shelby and the federal government, this is a good day for America as well as Alabama. We have a commitment in this state to reach out and to seek the best corporate citizens the world has and encourage them to come here, and hire our fine people and produce the world's best products. Once again, Alabama has proven that we can provide the environment that corporate leadership can find successful to make a profit and turn out world class profits," said Sessions.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Seth Hammett also addressed visitors to the groundbreaking. "As a representative of the Alabama Legislature, I also am representing the people of Alabama. We are here today to announce the creation of a new team

that team is Hyundai-Alabama. For that team to be successful, each of us will have to play our respective roles. It is an opportunity for our people to work and create better lives for themselves. We will provide an environment where Hyundai can be successful and compete effectively with other automobile manufacturing companies around the world. But, most importantly, we will provide workers who will produce world class products," said Hammett. "Hyundai's success will be Alabama's success. Hyundai and Alabama, may we have much success together."

Other speakers at Tuesday's event included the Consul General of the Republic of Korea Jung Pyo Cho, U.S. Representative Earl Hilliard, Mayor of the City of Montgomery Bobby Bright, Mayor of the City of Selma James Perkins Jr., and American Chamber of Commerce of Korea President Jeffrey Jones.

Several city and county officials also attended the ceremony to welcome Hyundai to Alabama. "I had a chance to talk with Gov. Siegelman this afternoon and he told me that he pointed out the billboard that we purchased welcoming Hyundai to Chairman Chung on the way to the groundbreaking," said Mayor Dexter McLendon. "We are really excited about Hyundai choosing Alabama and like Mayor Bobby Bright of Montgomery said, I, too, am still on cloud 99."

"This has been a great event," said Butler County Commissioner William L. Phillips. "A lot of us still don't even realize the impact that the Hyundai plant will have on this area."

Other local faces that attended the ceremony included Commission Chairman Daniel Robinson, Commissioners Jesse McWilliams and Frank Hickman, City Councilmembers Steve Norman and Gale Slagley, Senator Wendell Mitchell, Pioneer Electric Cooperative's Linda Horn, Butler County Commission for Economic Development Director Ricky McLaney and Horace Horn, director of Government and Economic Affairs for Alabama Electric Cooperative.

At the closing of the ceremony, Hyundai Automotive Company presented a check in the amount of $250,000 to the Alabama Partnership for Children and a check in the amount of $250,000 to the Central Alabama Community Foundation in support of education in Alabama.