Mayor predicts much growth for Greenville

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 20, 2005

Greenville and Butler County officials celebrated along with the rest of Alabama at Friday's grand opening of Hyundai's new United States manufacturing plant.

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon and Ricky McLaney, executive director for the Butler County Commission for Economic Development, were guests of Hysco America, a Tier 1 supplier to Hyundai located in the Camellia City.

"2005 sounded like a long time back then," said McLendon, recalling the first announcements of Hyundai's arrival in the US almost three years ago. "It's really great for this region, not only for Greenville, but the counties surrounding us as well."

Email newsletter signup

McLendon said he attended Thursday night's dinner held by Hyundai Kia Group Chairman Mong Koo Chung. Others in attendance were Gov. Bob Riley and members of the Alabama State Legislation.

"Just seeing what this means to the State of Alabama was pretty interesting," he said.

McLendon said he hoped citizens of Greenville realize how fortunate they are because of Hyundai's decision to locate in Montgomery.

"I think we should feel pretty lucky that this has happened," he said. "Second off, we need to embrace our Korean friends and I think we've done that in Greenville. This is just the start of what's about to happen."

And that, according to McLendon, is growth. He thinks Greenville will look considerably different 10 years from now because of a higher population and more industry.

In other words, Hyundai and the suppliers it brought to the county, Hysco America and Hwashin Co. Ltd., was just a start.

"I see people starting to move in now," he said. "This is the lowest unemployment we've had, I believe, since 1981. You're going to see people move inŠbecause of better jobs and a better quality of life for our citizens. One of the things we have to make sure of is that our infrastructure is in place to handle this type of growth. I don't think you'll recognize Greenville 10 years from now."

McLaney said there are several companies still interested in Greenville. He agreed with McLendon that the city and county are on an economic upswing with an unlimited growth potential.

"I've thought about this a lot," said McLaney. "It really reminds me of Prattville from the 50s and early 60s. I know that's saying a lot, but that's what I think Greenville's about to go to. That's exciting to think about. But there has to be a plan in place for that type of growth."

Hyundai had its detractors initially, but McLendon said the people of Greenville are starting to realize the automobile manufacturer's impact on Alabama. Hyundai has done what Greenville, and other small towns and communities in the area wanted: bring jobs.

"If the people could all just come up here and see this (ceremony) and what I've seen, they'd understand," said McLendon. "But I've been getting calls and comments. People can see that things are really turning around. They can tell a difference. It's really an exciting time."

The challenge, said McLendon, starts in high school.

"They have to know what they have to do in order to get out and find these jobs," he said. "If you want a job in Butler County you can find one. But you have to be willing to do the things you need to do. You're going to have to work hard and pass the drug test. That's big. They need to understand they have to keep their slate clean. And if they don't want to go to college they can find a job, live in Greenville and have a good life in Greenville."

McLaney said Butler County is committed to providing quality employees to Hyundai and its suppliers.

"Not only with the Korean companies, but with any company," he said. "Anything we can do to better train our people and make them better at their jobs, we're all behind it."