September 2017

For real-time news on business, politics and economic development in the South, go to www.RandleReport.com. For all projects announced in the South, go to www.SB-D.com. For more information on the automotive industry in the South, go to www.SouthernAutoCorridor.com.

Kentucky has become the center of aluminum manufacturing for the automotive industry
In the spring quarter, Braidy Industries announced it will build a $1.3 billion aluminum mill in Greenup County in Eastern Kentucky. The plant will produce aluminum sheet and plate for automotive plants in the South and Midwest. The deal will create 550 jobs. With Ford using more aluminum in its vehicles that are built in Louisville, the plant is needed. Also, Toyota is undergoing a $1.3 billion expansion of its plant in Georgetown, Ky., part of which is to accommodate more aluminum parts in its vehicles assembled there. The move convinced Logan Aluminum, which for decades has made aluminum cans in Logan County, Ky., to invest $248 million in the plant to produce aluminum parts for cars and trucks.

South Carolina automotive plant moving to Mexico
Kongsberg Automotive will close its plant in Easley early next year and eliminate nearly 100 jobs. The plant makes parts for large trucks and buses.

Who’s in the running for Toyota-Mazda plant?
According to the Wall Street Journal, 11 states — Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas — are being considered for a $1.6 billion auto manufacturing plant planned by Toyota and Mazda.

Freightliner to open $27 million logistics center in North Carolina
Rowan County’s huge Freightliner plant, owned by Portland, Oregon-based Daimler Trucks North America, will get a new $27 million logistics center and add more than a dozen new jobs to the 1,400 employees already working there. The idea is to consolidate existing warehouses and pave the way for adding more robot vehicles to the production line.

Toyota Motor North America expands Plano, Texas operations hub
Toyota Motor North America will form a new group focused on new technologies for its Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Called Connected Technologies, the group will employ approximately 100 positions and will include members from Toyota’s existing teams working on connected vehicles, information systems, and research and development.

Sentury to build North American HQ and tire plant in Georgia
Sentury Tire’s Georgia-based North American headquarters and manufacturing plant will sprawl across 1.5 million square feet, according to a filing made with the state. Last September, China-based Sentury Tire confirmed plans for a $530 million investment in LaGrange to make tires for cars and aircraft, including the landing gear tire for the Boeing 737. The first phase will employ 1,000 and include R&D and distribution centers.

Parts supplier to establish new operation in South Carolina
Germany-based Frimo Group subsidiary bo parts GmbH, a tier one and tier two supplier to the automotive industry, is establishing a new facility in Greenville County, S.C. The $4.1 million project will create 100 new jobs.

In wake of Toyota-Mazda decision, Chatham County, N.C., approves options on megasites
Chatham County has approved five-year option agreements for both the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing Site and the Moncure Megasite. Both sites are located in Chatham County and both meet the requirements for an automotive assembly facility.

Auto parts supplier expands in Tennessee
U.S. Tsubaki Automotive is investing $35.8 million to expand its facilities in Portland, Tenn. The parts supplier will also add 70 new jobs.

Auto parts maker to expand in Mississippi
Ohio-based S&A Industries announced it will invest $4 million to expand its plant in New Albany, Miss. The company, which will hire 40, makes noise vibration damping products for automakers.

Another megasite in the South tries to land Toyota-Mazda
The Purchase Area Regional Industrial Authority that covers several counties in Western Kentucky is offering up more than 2,000 acres of free land in an effort to land the latest automotive assembly plant site search in the Southern Auto Corridor. The site is in Graves County near Mayfield, Ky. According to sources, about 15 states in the South and the Midwest are competing for the proposed $1.6 billion plant that will build Toyota Corolla models and a Mazda SUV.

Automakers in Alabama shipped vehicles to 86 countries last year
Alabama’s automotive industry is in its 20th year. Last year, Hyundai, Honda and Mercedes-Benz shipped $7.9 billion in Alabama-made vehicles to 86 different countries. The number is a 13 percent increase over 2015 exports. Germany was the top export market for Alabama-made vehicles with more than $2.4 billion, followed by China, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Florida-Alabama megasite makes pitch to Toyota-Mazda
In the Florida Panhandle, just South of the Alabama-Florida line and Dothan, Ala., lies the 2,240-acre Florida-Alabama Mega Site. The site is relatively new to the large number of megasites in the South. Alabama and Florida officials have contacted leaders of the Toyota-Mazda joint venture to build electric sedans and SUVs. The site is located 30 miles from Dothan, 49 miles from Panama City, Fla., and 63 miles from Tallahassee. The city of Marianna, Fla., operates a municipal airport 12 miles from the site.

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Michael Randle

Author: Michael Randle