East Alabama Towns Hope To Cash In On KIA - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

March 13, 2006

East Alabama Towns Hope To Cash In On KIA

A part of West Point, Georgia's, good fortune could very well cruise back to east Alabama, specifically Lee County.

"We have every reason to believe our existing suppliers will expand," said Al Cook, Opelika's Economic Development Director.

Those suppliers include Mando and Maxforma Plastics. Both expect to have around 300 people working for their respective companies within a few years thanks to Hyundai. Now with KIA just 25 miles up Interstate 85, the potential for even more growth is enormous.

"I think the fact that companies not only look at sites, they look at the potential growth, look at the employment base, they look at the community they want the people to live in, many times in the past some of those areas were overlooked," said Tom Barthel who is the Human Resources Manager for Maxforma Plastics.

Still, it is far too early to say whether KIA suppliers will locate in Lee County. After all, part of the deal with Georgia requires that KIA bring 5 suppliers to that state. But we do know this; Mando is expanding. Company officials say they have plans to build a 700,000 square foot building on 50 acres right across the street from the plant. This decision they say was made long before KIA chose to set-up shop in west Georgia.

"It'll double the size of our current facility," said Jerry Rolison of Mando.

Even Montgomery wants to get in on the action.

"Once we knew Alabama was eliminated as a potential site, the Montgomery Chamber, city and county took a very aggressive role in working with our Hyundai connections," said Anna Buckalew, Montgomery Chamber's Senior Vice President.

For the moment, no county is more pleased than Chambers County located right across from West Point. Chambers County has an unemployment rate of more than 5%, higher than the state's average.

Reporter: Bryan Henry

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