Plant opening benefits community

Published 4:45 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Last Friday some of the most important people in Alabama filed into a brand-new 260,000-square-foot facility to celebrate the grand opening of a $108 million manufacturing plant.

It was a big day for the state, a big day for the Montgomery area.

It was a big day for Butler County.

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Greenville’s investment in Hyundai Power Transformers USA — the city pledged some $333,000 in incentives over three years — was an investment in our economy.

Signs of a return on that investment are already starting to appear. Perhaps the most visible so far was standing at the podium during Friday’s event.

One of two masters of ceremonies was public relations specialist and Greenville native Meghan Branum.

That’s right, the public face of one of the region’s largest new business ventures can be found in a 2007 Greenville High School yearbook.

She landed the job not long after graduating from Troy University this spring.

Branum is likely just one of many Butler County residents who will make up the work force of 500 planned employees at Hyundai Power Transformers USA.

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama sits just across the interstate and is separate from the Hyundai transformers operation, but it’s a shining example of how our local community can benefit from a development just up the road.

Two of Butler County’s largest employers, Hwashin and Hysco, are suppliers for the Hyundai motor plant. Both recently expanded their operations right here in our own back yard.

Together with other Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, they employ 8,953 employees in Alabama with an annual payroll of $231.3 million, according to an economic study prepared for Hyundai by M. Keivan Deravi, a professor of economics at Auburn University at Montgomery.

HMMA and its suppliers generated a total economic impact of $3.8 billion in additional purchases of goods and services in Alabama, according to the report.

When it comes to regional economic development, it’s clear our local community stands to benefit a great deal.

And Friday’s grand opening of Hyundai Power Transformers is well worth celebrating. Just ask your neighbor, Meghan Branum.