• 46°

Greenville joins with Montgomery, Prattville to help lure HHI

Gov. Bob Riley said 485 jobs.

The CEO of the corporation corrected him during his turn at the podium.

“It will represent more than 500 new jobs,” said Dr. J.S. Lee, CEO of Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in South Korea, which announced plans at the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce on Friday to build its first manufacturing plant in the United States. “This is only the beginning. We will grow and expand in the coming years.”

That was even more welcome news for Riley and the crowded room of civic and business leaders from Montgomery, Elmore and Butler County. Both Riley and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said it was the relationships with city officials in Greenville and Prattville that allowed the state to put together an incentive package designed to lure HHI to Alabama.

Strange said he made three telephone calls during negotiations, one to Prattville Mayor Jim Byard, one to Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon, and one to Elmore County Commissioner Joe Faulk, who chairs the commission’s Economic Development Committee.

“We asked for their help and support,” said Strange. “And we are indebted to them today. Without the support and assistance of Greenville, Prattville and Elmore County – as well as everyone involved in this process – I’m not sure we’d be here today.”“

Strange said Elmore County, Prattville and Greenville were able to provide a combined $850,000 in additional economic incentive money.

McLendon said Greenville’s share is $333,000 to be paid over a three-year period.

“It means some of our people are going to have an opportunity to get a job at this new plant,” said McLendon. “This is great news. I think this sends a message to Montgomery and the state that Greenville wants to be a player. We understand that jobs are what it’s all about.”

According to Ricky McLaney, director of the Butler County Commission for Economic Development Commission, approximately 450 to 500 people from the county commute to Hope Hull for employment. Over 100, he said, have jobs at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing plant.

Greenville was able to attract a pair of Tier I suppliers for Hyundai Motor when it announced plans to come to Alabama in 2002. McLendon said he would not speculate as to if Greenville would benefit similarly with HHI.

“We know there are going to be suppliers,” he said. “But as to where they’re going to locate, that’s still to be decided.”

Congressman Bobby Bright (D-Montgomery) said the announcement meant the relationships Alabama has built with South Korea continues to pay dividends.

“Hyundai Heavy Industries’ decision further diversifies the River Region’s manufacturing economy and will provide new jobs and opportunities for the hardworking people of Alabama,” said Bright.

The 222,000 square-foot facility represents a $90 million investment in the area and will be constructed on Interstate 65 in Hope Hull’s Industrial Parkway. While the company shares the same name as the automobile manufacturer, what will be assembled there is greatly different: 500-ton power transformers.

Founded in 1972, HHI is a global business network operating in six business divisions: Shipbuilding, Offshore and Engineering, Industrial Plant and Engineering, Engine and Machinery, Construction Equipment and Electro Electric Systems.

Groundbreaking is expected next month, with completion of the plant scheduled for the end of 2011. The plant should be operational in 2012.