BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Auto supplier Kamtek announced plans today to invest $530 million in an expansion of its Alabama operation that includes opening a new aluminum casting facility to meet automaker demands for lighter parts.
Kamtek, whose parent company is Canada-based Magna International, says the expansion project in Birmingham will add 354 jobs to its current Alabama workforce of more than 900. Kamtek primarily produces stamped parts for Mercedes-Benz and other automakers at its Jefferson County facility.
As part of its latest expansion, Kamtek will invest $80 million in the new, 148,00-square-foot aluminum casting facility and $450 million to expand its existing operation in Birmingham’s Valley East Industrial Park.
“Kamtek’s manufacturing operation in Alabama has grown through several expansions over the years, and I am honored that the company has picked Birmingham for another major investment,” Governor Robert Bentley said today.
“Not only will this project create 350 new jobs, but it also shows that Alabama remains very attractive to manufacturers and suppliers in the auto industry that are looking for the right place to expand. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Kamtek,” Governor Bentley said.
Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, told members of the Birmingham City Council this morning that Kamtek’s expansion is “one of the largest and most significant by an auto supplier in Alabama.” He added that the company’s plans to open an aluminum casting facility to produce lightweight parts reflects an important trend in the industry.
“This technology is absolutely critical to automakers,” Secretary Canfield said. “That bodes well for this investment.”
The Birmingham City Council this morning approved a development agreement with Kamtek, allowing the project to move forward. Mayor William Bell said Kamtek’s expansion demonstrates that Birmingham — flanked by the Mercedes and Honda assembly plants and home to several major suppliers — is a “major player” in the auto sector.
“This means jobs, this means economic opportunities for Birmingham, Jefferson County and the state of Alabama,” Bell said at a press conference.
Kamtek General Manager John Hackett said the new aluminum casting facility and the expansion of the company’s existing plant “demonstrates our ongoing commitment to our customers,” which include Mercedes, Volkswagen and other automakers.
“We are excited to continue our partnership with the local government in creating jobs and positioning ourselves for future business,” Hackett added.
Frank Ervin, director of government affairs for Magna International, said Kamtek’s current operation in Jefferson County represents investment approaching $473 million. Kamtek acquired Ogihara, which opened the facility, in 2008 and has re-invested heavily in the operation over the years. It now plans to expand its existing facility by 201,000 square feet.
“Everything is going so good that we decided we would spend a little more money,” Ervin told the City Council this morning.
Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington welcomed Kamtek’s commitment to its Alabama manufacturing center. “Half a billion dollars – that’s a lot of money,” he said at the press conference.
‘SUPPORT AND COOPERATION’
Secretary Canfield and others said teamwork among economic development organizations and government agencies helped make the Kamtek expansion possible. Commerce, the Birmingham Business Alliance, Birmingham’s economic development office, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, Alabama Power Co. and others joined forces on the project.
“The expansion of Kamtek is yet another sign that the Birmingham region is a great place for advanced manufacturing facilities to locate and grow,” said Mark Crosswhite, chairman, president and CEO of Alabama Power and chairman of the BBA.
“Our city and our region are drawing companies from across the globe because of our superior workforce, excellent infrastructure, competitive costs, quality of life, and the outstanding level of support and cooperation we offer to business and industry,” he added.
AIDT, a division of Commerce that acts as the state’s job-training agency, also was involved in the project.