April 25, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Officials Expect Hundreds of New Jobs from Korea Trip

Meetings Could Result in Projects Coming to State

By Brad Harper- The Montgomery Advertiser
Gov. Robert Bentley, center left, and other Alabama officials meet April 16 with Hyundai Motor Group leaders at Namyang Research and Development Center in Korea.
Gov. Robert Bentley, center left, and other Alabama officials meet April 16 with Hyundai Motor Group leaders at Namyang Research and Development Center in Korea. / Contributed

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said Tuesday that he expects overseas meetings with Korean businesses last week to produce “significant job creation” in the next few months.

“We won’t make any announcements (today),” Strange said. “There will be significant developments to come from this.”

Alabama Department of Commerce Director Greg Canfield said discussions involve an expansion of an existing industry and the possible relocation of another industry to Alabama. “These projects represent hundreds of potential new jobs,” Canfield said.

The April 13-17 trip was Gov. Robert Bentley’s first to Korea since his election, and Bentley said it may prove fruitful for the state.

Others who joined Bentley for the trip included Alabama Port Authority Director Jimmy Lyons and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s Ellen McNair, as well as Canfield and senior project manager Hollie Pegg.

The group first visited the headquarters of Hyundai Heavy Industries, which opened a power transformer plant in Montgomery last November.

In detailing the trip to a gathering of elected officials Tuesday in Montgomery, Strange said Hyundai Heavy Industries president and CEO Lee Jai-seong “talked about his vision of other things that could go on” in Alabama. Strange said regulations in Korea force the company to move some of its work offshore, which could mean more good news for the state.

The delegation also toured Hyundai Motor Co. in Seoul, where Korean officials led Alabama leaders on a tour and toasted them at a state dinner — held on the 10th anniversary of the groundbreaking for Montgomery’s Hyundai facility.

Later, local officials met with car seat producer DAS, which recently announced plans to begin operations in Montgomery’s Industrial Park.

“We had some interesting and significant conversations,” Strange said, noting that most of the company’s work is with Hyundai and Kia, which has a plant in West Point, Ga. “They want to expand that relationship all the way around.

“While we certainly didn’t get into any quote negotiations, they think that they’re going to need more space and more room. They talked about 14 acres and 250 jobs. Now they’re talking about 40 acres and substantially more jobs. We’ll have to see how that develops over the next month or two as we finalize that agreement.”

Local officials also met with auto parts specialist Hyundai Mobis and GLOVIS, both of which have Montgomery operations.

Strange said Bentley’s presence was key.

“Everybody knows that in Asian culture, and frankly in any foreign culture, the CEO of the enterprise … always is the most important person,” Strange said. “We had him scheduled, and then we got the tornado, and then the Legislature (agenda) got in the way.”

Bentley said the opportunity to meet the leaders of Hyundai Motor Corp. and Hyundai Heavy Industries was invaluable.

“The mission to Korea will open new doors and new opportunities for the people of Alabama, and it will further strengthen an already strong relationship with overseas business partners,” Bentley said Tuesday.

“… Both of these companies represent significant capital investment and thousands of Alabama jobs. We wish to convey our commitment to their future and possible growth in this state.”

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