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Monday, November 21, 2011

Hyundai Power Transformers USA Plant Brings Jobs to River Region

While elected officials and business leaders celebrated the opening of Hyundai Power Transformers USA on Friday morning in one cavernous section of the plant, work was already under way in another hangar-like room.
About 100 employees are on the job at the facility that builds up to 500-Kilo volt transformers. To put the size another way: Transformers that can weigh up to one million pounds. After they are constructed, they have to be disassembled for transport either by truck or rail
Many of the current employees trained for months in Korea before returning to Alabama to open the $108 million, approximately 260,000
square-foot facility a month ago.
Two transformers are currently on the assembly line. The first will be done in January.
When it's fully operational, the plant, the company's first in the U.S, will employ 500 people and produce about 200 transformers a year. Most will be used by utility companies.
At Friday's grand opening, Jai-Seong Lee, Hyundai Heavy Industries president and CEO, thanked the city of Montgomery, the county and the state for its support in the creation of the facility near Interstate 65 in southern Montgomery County.
He called the plant an "Alabama factory on Alabama soil" and said the company intends to be a good corporate citizen.
In total, local municipalities and the state combined to provide about $12 million in incentives for the plant that was announced last year. In 10 years, officials expect the company they refer to as HYPO to have generated about $33 million in state and local revenue, according to information from Ellen McNair at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.
While $12 million is a lot, it is only a small portion of the $108 million capital investment the company is making here, McNair pointed out.
"It gives you some comfort that your investment is safe," she said.
Gov. Robert Bentley said Friday that he's looking forward to a long relationship between Alabama and the company.
Alabama Industrial Development Training has helped recruit employees. About 14,000 people applied for the 500 available jobs.
"We want to provide for you what we think of as our greatest resource -- well-trained workers," Gov. Robert Bentley said during his presentation.
The company's hourly wages range from $11 to $24 an hour, based on technical skill, ability and time on the job, according to the company.
The transformers will be shipped all over North America. Some customers were on hand Friday.
Hydro One, which provides electricity to industrial and residential consumers in Ontario, Canada, began purchasing transformers from Hyundai about nine years ago.
Peter Greg, executive vice president of Hydro One, said he's found the company to have a great product and great people. Having a plant in the U.S. will reduce the shipping time for his orders.
"We have been looking forward to this plant opening," he said.
Hyundai has 40 percent of the transformer market in North America and expects to increase that to 50 percent when the new factory is up and running, according to the company's website.
"It is truly encouraging to see our global suppliers investing in America," said Daniel Recker, managing director at American Electric Power, one of the largest transformer owners in the U.S.
Hyundai has become a familiar name in the Montgomery area in the last decade, but the transformer producer is separate from the automaker Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama.
Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said that on a visit to Hyundai's facilities in Ulsan, South Korea, he saw a sign that read, "Your dreams will come true with Hyundai Power Transformers."
Now, Hyundai has set up shop in what he's dubbed the "Capital of Dreams."
"May this be just the beginning of our dreams," he said.
Montgomery County Commissioner Elton Dean told Hyundai officials that leaders here won't forget them now that the plant is open.
"You are at home," he said. "We are always going to be there for you."

Courtesy of the Alabama Development Office

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