November 17, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Editorial: Honda is a blessing

It seems there is no shortage of discouraging economic news, but there are times when the best thing we can do is sit back and count our blessings rather than our problems.

Alabama has certainly benefited from assembly plants of three of the brightest jewels of the automotive industry in recent decades, and the crown jewel of those three lies just minutes from St. Clair County.

The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama lists 19 manufacturing facilities for automobiles, light trucks and heavy trucks in the southeastern states. Of the three manufacturers within the state — Honda, Mercedes and Hyundai — Honda boasts the largest workforce with 4,000 associates, with Mercedes having 2,800 team members and Hyundai 2,700. Honda’s payroll exceeds $250 million annually.

Honda Manufacturing of Alabama alone contributes $4.5 billion annually to the Alabama economy, representing three percent of the state’s Gross State Product, according to the EDPA study. In addition, 38 Tier 1 suppliers have located operations in Alabama, bringing an additional 4,000 jobs to the state.

Honda hosted a celebration Monday, marking the 10th anniversary of the day the first vehicle rolled off of the production line at the plan in Lincoln.

Gov. Robert Bentley was there to help celebrate the milestone with HMA president Tom Shoupe, Congressman Mike Rogers, community leaders and other Honda executives.

Honda selected Lincoln as the site of thevehicle and engine plant in 1999 with an initial projection of employing 1,500 associates.

That was followed by a groundbreaking ceremony for the plant April 25, 2000, and the hiring of the first HMA employees that same year.

The first “customer-ready” Odyssey minivan rolled off the line November 14, 2001, six months ahead of schedule.

Since that time Honda added production of the Pilot sport utility vehicle at the plant, the innovative Ridgeline pickup and the Accord V-6 sedan.

In September of last year, Honda announced it’s Alabama plant had built its two millionth vehicle and V-6 engine.

Honda has announced hundreds of millions of dollars in expansions to the plant at Lincoln, and earlier this year announced plans to built the Acura MDX luxury sport utility vehicle in Alabama beginning in 2013.

Just this month, the company announced there would be no layoffs in spite of a production slowdown caused by flooding that stopped production of parts in Thailand, just as it did earlier this year when a tsunami interrupted the supply line in Japan.

At Monday’s celebration, Shoupe announced yet another expansion, $84 million for a metal stamping operation that will employ another 100 workers. He said that will bring HMA’s total investment to $2 billion.

Those kinds of achievements in our state are certainly blessings worth counting.

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