WEST POINT — Gov. Sonny Perdue joined with Mong-Koo Chung, Chairman of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, Friday to celebrate the grand opening of Kia’s first North American manufacturing facility, located in West Point. The ceremony was attended by approximately 500 dignitaries from both Korea and the U.S. including company representatives, dealers, and local and state officials.
“Kia’s decision to locate its first US manufacturing operation here in Georgia will be a milestone both for this company and our state,” said Gov. Perdue. “Georgia’s strengths will provide Kia with a competitive advantage as it expands its manufacturing base to North America. In turn, Kia and its suppliers are providing high-quality jobs to Georgia workers who can take pride in seeing vehicles they helped build on highways around the country.”
Gov. Perdue and Chairman Chung announced in March 2006 that Kia would create 2,500 jobs and invest $1 billion in a new facility in Georgia. Ground was broken on the 2,200-acre site in October of that year for the new Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) plant, and production began as scheduled in November 2009. The first vehicle to be built at KMMG is the all-new Sorento CUV, which is now in showrooms around the U.S. and Canada. At full capacity, the plant will have the ability to produce 300,000 vehicles each year.
“Kia is proud to call West Point, Georgia home and we look forward to many years of growing together,” said Byung-Mo Ahn, Group President and CEO of KMMG and Kia Motors America (KMA). “Continued diligent work has helped elevate Kia to one of the fastest growing automobile brands around the globe. With the successful launch of the 2011 Kia Sorento CUV and establishment of our first manufacturing plant in the United States, the Kia brand is well positioned for further growth and to become a worldwide leader in quality and innovation.”
The Kia plant’s economic impact to Georgia is expected to be approximately $4 billion per year, according to a Georgia Institute of Technology study commissioned by Georgia Department of Economic Development. The study predicts the economic benefits brought about by the Kia location will mean 20,000 new jobs by 2012 in a nine-county region. More than 3,600 of these jobs have already been announced by suppliers who have located on or near the Kia site.
The state has been instrumental in helping Kia recruit and train its workforce. The Department of Labor assisted in recruiting and screening thousands of candidates beginning in January 2008. The state constructed and staffs a 70,000-square-foot training center on the Kia site, where Georgia Quick Start, the state’s award-winning workforce training program, operates the curriculum and training courses it developed for plant employees.
The state recruitment effort was led by Gov. Perdue and the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The Georgia Department of Transportation provided road improvements, including a new interchange and access road, to facilitate movement of supplies to and vehicles from the Kia plant. Other state partners on the project include the Department of Labor, the Technical College System, the Department of Natural Resources, the OneGeorgia Authority, the State Properties Commission, the Department of Revenue and the Attorney General’s Office. Local partners include the West Point Development Authority, Development Authority of LaGrange, LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, and the cities of LaGrange and West Point.