Hwashin growth benefits city, county

Published 4:47 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hwashin America held a ribbon cutting on Thursday to officially dedicate a 120,000 square-foot addition to its facility. Advocate Staff/Patty Vaughan

Hwashin America is creating parts for more than 16,800 automobiles a week.

Just as importantly, the company is creating jobs.

Since the beginning of 2011, the company has added 107 jobs, which brings the total number of employees at the Greenville facility to 555.

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“I just want to say that having Hwashin here in Greenville is certainly a blessing, not in disguise but in reality, because we have seen the direct results of Hwashin being here,” Greenville City Councilman Jeddo Bell said. “I remember back when the unemployment rate was at 18 percent and it is no longer 18 percent. That is partially because of Hwashin coming to Greenville, and we appreciate that very much.”

The latest unemployment figures released by Gov. Robert Bentley’s office last week list Butler County’s unemployment rate at 10.8 percent. At the same time in 2011, the county’s unemployment rate was 11.1 percent.

Hwashin has certainly played a role in the county’s unemployment rate dropping.

Near the end of 2011, Hwashin began producing parts for the Kia Optima, which spurred the creation of jobs in Butler County. According to Gary Malak, Hwashin plant manager, the company began producing parts for Kia in 2009, but Butler County really began to see the benefit in the form of new jobs with the addition of the Optima.

“(Kia) amped up their production quite a bit,” he said.

The increased production also led to an expansion.

In July of last year, the company completed a 120,000 square-foot facility that includes a 100,000 square-foot manufacturing plant. On Thursday, the company held a ribbon cutting to officially dedicate the new facility. Malak said the addition of the facility has enabled the company to produce parts for nearly 3,000 vehicles a day.

“We are a high-volume producer,” Malak said. “We’re producing parts for 2,800 vehicles per day and that includes Saturday.”

According to Malik, Hwashin has also added a new stamping line. The total investment for the company’s expansion totals $18 million.

Alabama Economic and Community Development Director Chuck Carver said Hyundai and Hwashin have been very good for the state.

“I think the people of Alabama very much appreciate what you have done at this wonderful manufacturing plant that you have created here,” Carver said at the ribbon cutting. “This is the baseline for prosperity.”