LANETT, Alabama – South Korean auto parts maker KMIN announced plans to open its first U.S. plant in Chambers County, which has become a thriving hub for supplier operations as the Southeastern auto industry continues to expand.
Chambers County officials said KMIN, which manufactures and assembles parts for automobile seats as well as ancillary parts, intends to hire 80 full-time employees within a year. In three years, KMIN’s workforce at the Valley facility should number 200 full-time associates.
KMIN, a subsidiary of South Korea-based Kwang Myung Industry Co. Ltd., plans to invest $17.3 million in the Alabama project.
“I have confidence that KMIN will find that Alabama has an excellent business climate in which to prosper,” Valley Mayor Leonard Riley said. “We will work with the company to help them grow here.”
Valerie Gray, executive director of the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA), said the KMIN facility in Valley will supply Hyundai Dymos, a Tier 1 supplier to the Kia assembly plant in West Point, Ga., just minutes away across the state line.
Gray said KMIN will occupy an existing facility on Towel Avenue in Valley and plans to fast-track the project, with production targeted to begin in September.
The recruitment of KMIN also moved along rapidly. Gray said the CCDA first met with the company on Feb. 11, a bitterly cold and rainy day. Over the next few weeks, the team met with the company at the Towel Avenue facility to determine utility charges and costs associated with retrofitting the building.
“I feel like our advantages were location and proximity to Hyundai Dymos, and the existing facility,” Gray said.
Cooperation also helped. The City of Valley and the Chambers County Commission worked together to make the project possible, according to CCDA Chairman Bobby Williams. Linda Swann, the assistant director of the Department of Commerce, and Joseph Burchfield, a project manager for the department, led the Alabama team, coordinating meetings with AIDT and the state Revenue Department.
“We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with KMIN USA,” Williams said.
Chambers County Commission Chairman Henry Osborne said the commission plans to build a “solid relationship” with the company so that it can continue to grow in its manufacturing base in Valley.
Rural Chambers County has enjoyed great success in attracting auto suppliers, thanks to its location on Interstate 85 between the Kia plant and the Hyundai assembly plant 80 miles away in Montgomery. (Read an article about how Chambers has become a magnet for suppliers.)
Those suppliers have created more than 1,700 jobs in Chambers County and brought in more than $220 million in new investment.