Alabama Corporate Moves

Hanwha Expands, Creates Jobs in Opelika

Hanwha L&C Alabama (formally known as Maxforma Plastics LLC) announced that the company will begin a second major expansion of their manufacturing facility in the Northeast Opelika Industrial Park. Hanwha is a manufacturer of construction materials such as plastic floor materials, artificial marble, automotive components, interior decorations and other plastic products including packing materials and films.

According to information provided by the city of Opelika, the company plans to invest another $11 million for a building expansion and equipment in the city. They will add approximately 25,000 square feet to the existing building for a total of 145,000 square feet. The expansion is expected to be completed by August 2010 and will create 25 new jobs.

Hanwha L&C Alabama began operation in Opelika in 2005 and is part of the automotive division of Hanwha L&C Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea, a business averaging over $20 billion in annual revenue. Hanwha’s first Opelika expansion in 2008 was a $15 million investment that created 45 new jobs and 42,000 square feet. Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller stated, “We sincerely appreciate Hanwha’s investment in our community and pledge to continue to support their growth and success here in Opelika.”

Northeast Opelika Industrial Park is located on 2,200 acres in the northern portion of Opelika along Interstate 85. Equipped to meet a wide variety of site needs, the largest contiguous parcel is 1,200 acres. The city’s large labor pool of over 440,000 within a 30-mile radius, a top community college within five minutes of the park, Auburn University fifteen minutes away, and transportation advantages that include rail service by CSX and close proximity to Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport, make Northeast Opelika Industrial Park attractive to the automotive industry.

The new expansion will increase the company’s total investment in Opelika to approximately $43 million, according to the city. Hanwha L&C Alabama is a tier one supplier to Hyundai in Alabama and Kia Motors Manufacturing of Georgia.

Industrial Park Planned for Northwest Alabama Regional Airport Site

Northwest Alabama Regional Airport has submitted a pre-application for a $5 million Federal Aviation Administration discretionary grant that would pay for infrastructure development on about 90 acres of airport property adjacent to the Muscle Shoals Research Airpark.

The idea is to develop an industrial park on airport property that would attract aviation-related businesses to Muscle Shoals, AL.

The airport board of directors has agreed to provide a $125,000 match if the grant is approved. FAA discretionary money covers 95 percent of an airport improvement project and the state of Alabama covers 21⁄2 percent, leaving 21⁄2 percent for the airport to provide.

The money would be used to develop infrastructure such as water, sewer, electric and gas service to the property, as well as roads and storm drainage facilities.

The city of Muscle Shoals has agreed to extend a road in the Research Airpark about 300 feet to the edge of airport property, which would provide access to the park from the industrial park.

The Targeted and Prepared Community Program, which was commissioned by the Tennessee Valley Authority and released in October 2008, determined that the Shoals should concentrate on aerospace, aviation and automotive suppliers as it plots a new recruitment strategy.

“The Shoals TaP project established aviation-related industry as a priority for development in the Shoals,” said Forest Wright,  executive director of the Shoals Economic Development Authority (SEDA).

“The airport’s grant application will provide the necessary ramp, infrastructure and building pad, making the construction of a speculative hangar economically possible.”

Wright said the TaP study indicated that site selection factors included available space near or on an airport taxiway and aviation related training opportunities.

The SEDA Board of Directors has indicated it will consider building a spec building at the airport if the infrastructure work is completed. SEDA recently approved the construction of a spec building at Rogersville Industrial Park and will consider other sites. SEDA is working to get an Advantagesite designation for the Research Airpark.

In the past two years, the airport has received nearly $5 million that was used to upgrade runways, lighting systems, new hangar construction and the installation of a new air conditioning system for the terminal building.

It will take about nine months to complete the infrastructure work at the airport, in addition to the time it would take to develop engineering plans for the project. The infrastructure development is part of the airport’s Capital Improvement Program, which has also been submitted to the FAA.

Future airport development projects include completing the security fencing around the airport, expanding taxiways, developing hangar sites on the airport’s southwest side and constructing a new fueling area.

The airport has also applied for a grant that would pay for enclosing seven open “shade hangars.”

Yutaka Expands Honda Parts Production in Cullman

A $5.8-million expansion at Alabama Cullman Yutaka Technologies in Cullman, AL is expected to add about 65 jobs within the next year.

Equipment is being installed for the production of exhaust systems for the 2011 Honda Odyssey. Yutaka manufactures catalytic convertors, exhaust systems and other products for Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. The plant, located at Cullman Industrial Park No. 5, currently is producing exhaust systems for the Honda Ridgeline and Pilot.

Cullman Economic Development Director Peggy Smith told the Cullman Times the Yutaka expansion is a positive sign for the local economy. “This is great news for Cullman,” Smith said. “We have many strong industries in the area and have weathered the economic storms. Our industries are the best resource we have and we value the jobs they create.”

An economic-impact study conducted by the Cullman Economic Development Agency shortly before the $50-million, 166,000-square-foot Yutaka Technologies plant opened in 2007 predicted the plant would pay out an estimated $12.9 million in hourly payroll over the next three years locally, with employment topping out at 200 in 2009. The study, which was conducted by CEDA during the city’s courtship of Yutaka in late 2006, suggested the plant’s location in Cullman will have a hefty impact on local economics for decades.