JASPER, Alabama — Yokohama, Japan-based Yorozu Corp., a global Tier 1 automotive supplier, plans to invest more than $100 million to build an advanced metal stamping facility in Alabama, creating 300 jobs in Jasper and adding momentum to the state’s growing auto manufacturing sector.
The Yorozu Automotive Alabama Inc. (YAA) facility will be located on a 50-acre site in the Jasper Industrial Park that had been certified under Alabama’s “AdvantageSite” program. YAA, which will operate as a subsidiary of Tennessee-based Yorozu America Corp., will supply several auto assembly plants with suspensions and other components.
“With the goal of expanding sales and after considerable evaluation of multiple site options, Yorozu Corporation and Yorozu America are excited to announce our plans to establish a manufacturing facility in Jasper, Alabama,” Yorozu America President Jack Phillips said. “This plant will utilize state-of-the-art technology with respect to production automation and logistics automation. It is the aim of the Yorozu group for this plant to be the No. 1 suspension parts production facility in the world.”
Construction at the Jasper site is expected to begin by January 2016, with completion scheduled for a year later. Production at the new Alabama facility is expected to start in July 2017.
“Yorozu is making a significant investment in Jasper and forming a great partnership with the state of Alabama,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “Automotive manufacturing is a significant industry in Alabama, and the 300 new jobs is a welcomed opportunity for citizens of Jasper and Walker County to obtain a good job with Yorozu. The Alabama workforce is strong, and will be a great partner with Yorozu to make it successful. I appreciate the local and state teamwork that went into recruiting Yorozu to Jasper.”
‘PROJECT STAMP’ TEAMWORK
David Knight, executive director of the Walker County Development Authority, said the recruitment of “Project Stamp,” as the project was known, relied on a teamwork approach that brought together local leaders, state officials and representatives from utilities and boards.
“Walker County’s close proximity to multiple automotive OEM’s, direct access to Interstate 22 and a high-quality labor force provided key advantages during the site selection process,” Knight said.
Located along I-22, which connects Memphis and Birmingham, Jasper is seeing the development of an auto supply cluster. HTNA, a Tier 1 supplier that manufactures carpet and interior trim components for Honda, Toyota and other automakers, recently built a new, $27 million production facility at the city’s Bevill Industrial Park. Nitto Denko, another Japanese supplier, supplies Honda from a facility at the same park.
Jasper’s location offers proximity to several auto manufacturers in the region. Honda’s Alabama plant stands 85 miles away, while the Toyota assembly plant near Tupelo, Mississippi, is about 110 miles away on I-22. The Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, is 200 miles distant.
“With the completion of I-22 just around the corner coupled with a project of this magnitude with Yorozu Automotive in Jasper, the future of this corridor is very exciting,” said Blair King, an Alabama Power Co. economic development project manager.
Yorozu is a latest in a series of major auto-related projects announced recently in Alabama.
Last month, Mercedes-Benz announced a $1.3 billion expansion to prepare its Alabama facility for the production of next-generation SUVs, adding new 300 jobs. In August, supplier Kamtek announced a $530 million expansion that will create 350 jobs in Jefferson County, and SMP announced plans to build a $150 million plant in Tuscaloosa County with 650 jobs.
“Growth will spread throughout Alabama’s auto sector as new investment continues to come in, solidifying the state’s position as a manufacturing powerhouse in this global industry,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “This year, Alabama workers will produce more than 1 million vehicles and nearly 2 million engines – a significant level of output.”