ATHENS, Alabama – Asahi Kasei Plastics North America plans to invest more than $30 million to open its second U.S. production facility at a site in Limestone County, where the company plans to employ up to 100 people at full capacity, Governor Robert Bentley announced today.
Asahi Kasei Plastics’ Athens plant will process plastic resin into a finished pellet product that will be shipped to plastic injection molding facilities, where the material will be transformed into automobile components. The company’s plastic compounds also are used in furniture, pool and spa, industrial equipment and many more applications.
“This facility will be central to our strategy to increase our presence in the South and provide ongoing support to customers,” Asahi Kasei Plastics’ President John Moyer said. “We see Alabama being very central to the strong recovery in the automotive industry and other markets we serve and are proud that we will be able to be a part of this exciting growth.”
Governor Bentley said Alabama was an ideal choice for Asahi Kasei Plastics not only because of its location in the heart of the growing Southeastern auto industry corridor but also because the state has the best trained workforce in the nation.
“Alabama’s automotive supplier base continues to grow as companies find that Alabama is the best place to locate operations, to expand, and to live,” Governor Bentley said. “Today’s announcement by Asahi Kasei means several things. First, it means more good jobs for the people of Alabama, and it shows the confidence that companies have in our workforce and in the positive business climate we’ve created in Alabama. I am honored to welcome Asahi Kasei to Alabama.”
RECRUITING ‘PROJECT A’
Tom Hill, president of the Limestone County Economic Development Authority, said Asahi Kasei Plastics will build its facility on a 51-acre site in Elm Industrial Park. Athens and Limestone County officials, working in conjunction with state agencies led by the Alabama Department of Commerce, have agreed to extend infrastructure, including rail, to the industrial site.
“Community leaders in Athens and Limestone are very job-focused, and this is a fine company,” Hill said. “We are very pleased that Asahi Kasei Plastics is coming to town to add these jobs.”
Hill and Jason Wright, senior project manager at the North Alabama Industrial Development Association (NAIDA), said the recruitment of “Project A” began last October and involved a high level of cooperation between several agencies as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) economic development department.
“One thing we are really good at is pulling teams together to make projects happen,” Wright said. “We were able to put everyone at the table to answer the company’s questions.”
Improving the rail network at the Limestone County park was a team effort. As part of the project, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) awarded a $250,000 grant for rail spur infrastructure at the industrial site, ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr. said. Athens and Limestone County will fund the remainder of the $1.1 million upgrade, which will benefit the region.
In addition, the Alabama Department of Transportation gave a grant to lengthen an industrial road at the industrial site. AIDT, the state’s top-ranked job training agency, and TVA also lent assistance on the project.
“TVA is pleased to partner with the Alabama Department of Commerce and Limestone County EDA on another successful new business location in Athens, Alabama,” said John Bradley, TVA’s senior vice president of economic development. “TVA and Athens Utilities appreciate the opportunity to provide economic development resources that assist this new corporate location and also ensure quality companies like Asahi Kasei will continue to thrive in the community.”
‘GREAT PLACE TO DO BUSINESS’
Asahi Kasei Plastics arrives in Alabama at a time of explosive growth for the state’s auto industry and amid efforts to attract raw materials producers as a way to round out the support network for the Alabama assembly plants operated by Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai.
Limestone County is an attractive location for the project because of a concentration of chemical companies in the Athens-Decatur area and the presence of Calhoun Community College and Athens State University, along with the Robotics Technology Park operated by AIDT.
“We are extremely excited to be locating our new plant in Athens, Alabama,” Moyer said. “The cooperation and support we have received from everyone in Alabama, from the city and county to the local economic development authority to the state’s economic development team, have been exemplary.
“The community has been welcoming and we can’t wait to get our new plant up and running. Athens is going to be a great place to do business,” he added.
Asahi Kasei Plastics operates a production facility in Fowlerville, Michigan. The company is part of Japan-based Asahi Kasei, which operates manufacturing facilities around the globe. Alabama production is projected to begin in early 2016.