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650 Alabamians to be employed at massive new auto parts manufacturing plant

Mercedes-Benz's plant in Vance, Ala. (Photo: Carol M. Highsmith)
Mercedes-Benz’s plant in Vance, Ala. (Photo: Carol M. Highsmith)

COTTONDALE, Ala. — Alabama’s growing automotive industry will get a little bigger this year, with a new company bringing 650 more jobs to the state.

SMP (Samvardhana Motherson Peguform Automotive Systems Alabama Inc.), an India-based automotive parts supplier, is getting ready to break ground on a new 100-acre site in the Cedar Cove Technology Park in Cottondale, right outside Tuscaloosa. The 700,000-square-foot factory, which will cost $154 million, was originally announced in August last year, but now the groundwork is finally getting started.

SMP is also starting to hire the first team of employees for the new facility. The first round of employees will include of industrial engineers, robotics technicians, administration, and managers in logistics, supplier quality, maintenance, and other areas of plant production.

These employees will have the opportunity to receive special training in other SMP facilities in Mexico and Germany.

“Due to the fact that this plant will be newly established, it will be a great opportunity for employees to be part of it from the beginning and help shape the business,” said a statement from Kenneth Suda, the Tuscaloosa plant’s general manager.

The first round of employees will primarily be salaried, and the hourly workers will be hired later, with the help of AIDT.

The facility will primarily make bumpers, interior and exterior door panels, and other parts for Mercedes-Benz.

SMP is one of the 50 largest automotive suppliers in the world and has factories on four continents. It is the largest auto supplier to come to Alabama since Mercedes-Benz came to Tuscaloosa nearly 20 years ago.

Since then, Alabama has become a national leader in the automotive industry. Last year, the state’s three global automakers – Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Hyundai – produced over 1 million vehicles. Alabama is now the fifth largest auto producing state, and employment in the sector is approaching 40,000. Vehicles and parts have become the state’s top export category, reaching $6.6 billion in 2014. New auto-related investment in the sector during the past four years tops $5.5 billion.

SMP’s decision to join Alabama’s dominant auto industry was made easy by the staggering numbers the state has already produced and the lure of a willing and skilled workforce.

“The Alabama economic development team has targeted growth in the state’s auto supply chain because it serves to strengthen the industry’s foundation here,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Developing partnerships with global suppliers like SMP reflects this strategy and sets the stage for additional job-creation and growth in Alabama’s advanced manufacturing sector.”

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