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Auto parts maker Samkee Corp. opens first U.S. factory in Tuskegee

Alabama rural development

TUSKEGEE, Alabama — Commerce Secretary Ellen McNair joined officials of Samkee Corp. and local leaders today to mark the opening of the auto parts maker’s new production facility in Tuskegee Commerce Park.

South Korea-based Samkee invested $128 million to build its first U.S. factory, which will employ over 170 people at full operation while providing a massive economic boost for rural Macon County.

“Samkee is a first-class addition to Alabama’s dynamic auto industry, and the opening of this state-of-the-art facility in Tuskegee demonstrates that the industry continues to gain horsepower in the state,” Commerce Secretary McNair said.

“I’m confident that Samkee will grow and thrive in its new U.S. industrial home, just as many others have done in Alabama.”

Over 300 company, state and local stakeholders gathered inside the Tuskegee plant to attend today’s ceremony, which culminated a project that was first announced in February 2023.

Founded in 1978, Samkee specializes in automotive aluminum components, including parts for engines, transmissions, electric vehicles and batteries, along with alloys. The company currently operates factories in South Korea.

Samkee will serve as a Tier 1 supplier to Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama’s assembly plant in Montgomery.  

“We are excited to have our first U.S. manufacturing footprint here in Tuskegee. This was only possible due to strong state and local leadership and supports from the entire community,” said Chihwan Kim, CEO of Samkee Corp.

“This important investment will help us continue our sustainable growth in the auto industry as well as strengthen automotive supply chain in the U.S.”

Support system

The Samkee project received a high level of community support, including site improvements, access road updating and new upgraded utilities — all of which will serve other parcels within the Tuskegee Commerce Park. In addition, a new electrical substation is being built to accommodate Samkee’s future needs.

“The City of Tuskegee is very thankful and excited to begin casting a bright future with our newest partner, Samkee America,” Tuskegee Mayor Tony Haygood said. “Our rapid deployment and success in such a short period of time is an outstanding example of what we can accomplish when we all work together.

“The new jobs and investments throughout the county will benefit our citizens for years to come.”

The Utilities Board of Tuskegee played a major role in the recruitment of Samkee, and UBT General Manager Gerald Long said today’s grand opening ceremony represented a milestone for the community.

“UBT is proud to welcome Samkee to Macon County,” Long said. “Attracting them and pulling this project off was a hard-fought effort. We will continue to work to ensure that Samkee’s new entry to Tuskegee is a successful and prosperous one.”

The Macon County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA) also played a pivotal role in bringing Samkee to Tuskegee.

“Samkee and our community developed an immediate trust and friendship that yielded this great result,” MCEDA Executive Director Joe Turnham. “We have adopted Samkee into the fabric of Macon County.

“Samkee’s motto is: “Casting the Future.” Now both Samkee and Macon County are casting that future together,” he added.

Local impact

Samkee’s manufacturing plant is expected to have a significant economic impact on Macon County, according to an analysis by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the University of Alabama.

The analysis projects that the Samkee factory will generate $140.2 million in annual economic output in Macon County, contributing over $37 million to the county’s GDP.

New direct taxes revenues for schools and community from the project are estimated at nearly $1.5 million per year.

Brenda Tuck, Rural Development Manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce, said Samkee’s investment project illustrates that the state’s rural counties remain a powerful magnet for foreign direct investment, particularly within the auto industry.

Since 2015, foreign companies have invested over $2 billion in growth projects in Alabama’s rural counties, with auto-related projects accounting for a large share of the total, according to data from the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Alabama’s rural communities offer manufacturers like Samkee all the essentials they need to find long-term success with their ventures,” Tuck said.

“It’s clear to me that opportunities are flourishing in the state’s rural communities, and the business world is beginning to take full advantage of the possibilities.”

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