2 years ago

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama investing $410 million, adding 200 jobs through new vehicle line

MONTGOMERY — Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday joined Hyundai executives and local leaders on the steps of the State Capitol to announce that the automaker plans to add a new vehicle to its Alabama production lineup as part of a $410 million expansion that will create 200 more jobs at the state-of-the-art Montgomery facility, along with approximately 1,000 supplier jobs in the area.

During the press conference, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing of Alabama (HMMA) president and CEO Byungjin Jin said workers will assemble the brand-new Santa Cruz compact utility vehicle at the facility, with production slated to begin in 2021.

Hyundai intends to begin filling the new positions being created by the latest expansion project during the second half of 2020.

HMMA currently produces the Santa Fe SUV and the Sonata and Elantra sedans in Montgomery. The addition of the Santa Cruz will provide the company with greater flexibility to adjust its product mix based on market demands.

Jin expressed that this announcement demonstrates continued commitment to and confidence in HMMA’s Montgomery operations and Alabama workforce.

“Bringing the Santa Cruz to HMMA demonstrates that Hyundai Motor Company is confident our more than 3,000 team members are ready to build a quality crossover for the U.S. market,” Jin said.

The Santa Cruz was first introduced as a concept crossover at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Hyundai said it’s designed for younger buyers who want the traditional attributes of a compact utility vehicle but need the day-to-day versatility of an open bed.

Business climate, partnerships made announcement possible

Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield acted as the master of ceremonies for the Wednesday press conference. Introducing Governor Kay Ivey to the podium, Canfield advised that her leadership in nurturing Alabama’s world-class pro-growth business climate makes this type of job creation announcement possible.

“[T]o have the right type of (business) climate takes the right kind of leader at the top,” Canfield said. “The type of leader that governs the state with a business saviness and a knowledge and an awareness of what needs to be done to nurture business and also provide great opportunities for the people here across the state of Alabama.”

Ivey then addressed the crowd, which included workers at HMMA’s Montgomery facility.

Calling it an “exciting occasion,” Ivey reiterated that her “top priority” since taking office in the spring of 2017 has been economic development.

The state continues to shatter economic record after record under her administration, and major job announcements and new private sector investments have become commonplace.

She advised that HMMA and the State of Alabama have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship since the company came to Montgomery in 2005.

This announcement is the latest in a series of recent major investments by HMMA.

“We are so honored that in just 18 months HMMA has invested over $1.1 billion in the Montgomery area,” Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Willie Durham stated. “Partnership and teamwork are key to this kind of economic growth, and we are grateful for the impact this kind of investment will have on the entire region.”

Earlier this year, Ivey and local elected officials joined the company for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of HMMA’s cylinder head machining plant in Montgomery. That plant represents a $388 million total investment to manufacture engine cylinder heads and enhance existing operations to support the production of new Sonata and Elantra sedan models.

Even more recently, HMMA announced an additional $292 million investment in new machinery and equipment to facilitate the production of the redesigned Elantra and Santa Fe vehicles and a new, more fuel-efficient Theta engine at their North American plant in Montgomery.

This does not even account for HMMA’s philanthropic work, such as donating $250,000 to Montgomery Public Schools for STEM education.

Hyundai is already the River Region’s largest private manufacturer with 2,900 full-time and 500 part-time employees. Since it opened, the Alabama facility has produced 4.5 million vehicles for the North American market, along with more than 6 million engines.

Wednesday’s announcement underscored that the working relationship between HMMA, the state and local government entities continues to get better and better.

“Alabama and Hyundai have developed a great partnership over the years, and it’s a testament to our special relationship that this world-class automaker is expanding once again in Montgomery,” Ivey said.

Hyundai noted the $410 million investment will create 230,000 square feet of additional space in the stamping, welding and parts processing areas of the manufacturing complex. While direct employment at HMMA will reportedly increase by 200 jobs, Hyundai projects that its local suppliers and logistics companies will employ an additional 1,000 people in the River Region.

“Hyundai’s new investment is giving more Alabama families an opportunity to earn a good living while also strengthening the state’s growing auto industry,” the governor remarked.

Local leaders were also on hand to celebrate the announcement — and these individuals play a big part in the productive partnership with HMMA.

Canfield noted that Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed has only been on the job one day officially now but that Reed’s leadership has already been important with Hyundai, as he traveled to South Korea recently with then-Mayor Todd Strange to meet with company executives.

Reed spoke during Wednesday’s press conference and stressed his commitment to the relationship and appreciation for Hyundai.

“I recently had the honor of experiencing first-hand the long-standing partnership between Hyundai and Montgomery on a visit to Seoul as part of an economic development delegation including former Mayor Todd Strange,” Reed said.

“With the addition of the Santa Cruz, Hyundai is again choosing to launch a new vision. I look forward to continuing to strengthen this vital relationship in the coming years and working with our partners to support this tremendous investment,” he concluded.

Among U.S. states, Alabama ranks as the fifth largest producer of cars and light trucks. It is home to more than 150 major auto suppliers and over 40,000 automotive manufacturing jobs.

Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean said that companies become family when they locate in Alabama and that the state’s leaders, along with local officials, take it upon themselves to go above and beyond in making sure companies are successful in the Yellowhammer State.

“Our commitment to our partnership with Hyundai continues to deepen, and we are so honored by this significant investment,” he added. “Together, we are charting the course for success and opportunity in the River Region.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Jim Zeigler considering ‘exploratory’ effort for Alabama governor in 2022

After much speculation, Gov. Kay Ivey announced her intentions to seek another term as governor in 2022 earlier this month.

Despite what were perceived to be controversial positions on pushing the Rebuild Alabama Act that raised the gasoline tax, her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in determining what could remain open and closed and a failed Mobile Bay/I-10 toll bridge proposal, Ivey is still riding high in polling with strong approve-disapprove numbers.

However, State Auditor Jim Zeigler, whose term as auditor will be over after 2022 and is ineligible to run again because of term limits, told Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Friday that he was considering a run for governor in 2022.

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“I believe it’s very important for Alabama taxpayers, for the state government, for our future to have a viable opponent who has been raising issues and trying to hold the Ivey administration accountable,” he said. “And that is why I am considering myself setting up an exploratory campaign to test the waters for a gubernatorial run. Who else is there — who else took the lead in blocking the toll bridge over Mobile Bay? Who else took the lead in blocking Amendment One that would have taken away your right to vote for school board members and have them all appointed by the Governor? Who else took the lead in blocking this prison rental plan that would have had us paying over $3 billion over 30 years and then owning zero equity in the prisons, a terrible business plan?”

“I don’t know,” Zeigler continued. “If not me, then who?”

If Zeigler runs against Ivey in 2022, it would not be the first time the two of their names appeared on a ballot in a race against one another. In Alabama’s 2020 Republican primary, Zeigler took on Ivey in a race for state delegate for the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Ivey prevailed with 7,182 votes to Zeigler’s 1,729 votes — a margin of 80.6% to 19.4%.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

7 hours ago

Alabama’s May unemployment rate drops to 3.4% — Post-pandemic rate at lows; Record high wages

Alabama’s post-COVID pandemic economic recovery seems to be humming along based on data released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

According to a press release, Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington revealed Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 3.4%, down from April’s rate of 3.6%.

The 3.4% rate tops the May 2020 number of 7.9%.

“May’s rate represents 75,458 unemployed persons, compared to 79,319 in April and 174,680 in May 2020,” the release said. “May’s unemployed count is the lowest in 2021.”

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(ADOL)

“Our record-breaking streak is continuing in May, and we hope that it continues throughout the rest of the year,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in the statement. “Yet again, we’ve dropped our unemployment rate and each month we are getting closer and closer to our pre-pandemic record low unemployment rate of 2.6%. Our economy is adding jobs, and earlier barriers to joining the workforce have been significantly reduced. In fact, there are more job postings than there are people counted as unemployed! Alabama is, once again, open for business.”

Data showed that wage and salary employment grew last month by 4,700.

“Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+5,000), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+2,500), and the education and health services sector (+1,200), among others. Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 123,000, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+37,100), the professional and business services sector (+23,000), and the manufacturing sector (+22,900), among others,” the release said.

Average weekly earnings for the private sector rose to a new record high of $974.12, up $66.91 over the year, according to the Department of Labor.

“As we continue to see improvement in nearly all sectors of the economy, we’re also seeing record high wages in Alabama,” Washington added. “Once again, our average weekly wages are at new record high, representing an almost $67 per week over-the-year increase. Both the leisure and hospitality and manufacturing sectors are showing record high wages as well, with significant yearly increases. The economy is responding as we expected to labor force fluctuations brought about by the pandemic.”

Broken down by county, Shelby County led the way with a rate of 1.8%, followed by Blount, Marshall, Franklin and DeKalb Counties.

Wilcox County topped the highest in the state with an unemployment rate of 8.8%.

When broken down by municipalities, Alabaster had the lowest rate at 1.7%. Selma had the state’s highest, coming in at 7.0%, followed by Prichard at 6.5% and Bessemer at 5.2%.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

8 hours ago

Shelby warns Biden on defense cuts — ‘Military investments in China and Russia … outpace U.S. investment’

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) fired his own warning shots over what he views as an inadequate defense budget proposal from President Joe Biden.

During a full Senate Committee on Appropriations review of Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Department of Defense budget request, Shelby expressed his concern that the administration’s defense spending plan placed the nation at a disadvantage compared to its adversaries.

“The National Defense Strategy provides a road map for what the Department of Defense needs – at a minimum – to meet the challenges posed by a re-emergence of long-term strategic competition with China and Russia,” explained Shelby. “Anything less jeopardizes readiness, the recapitalization of capital assets, and necessary investments in new and emerging technologies.”

Shelby, who currently serves as vice chairman of the powerful Senate committee, believes that not meeting current national defense demands sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world.

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“This year, the budget proposal signals to the world that this administration is not committed to investing in readiness, training, state of the art equipment, and technological overmatch,” Shelby stated. “With military investments in China and Russia continuing to outpace U.S. investments, I find it hard to believe that the requirements outlined by General Dunford just four years ago are no longer instructive.”

This critical assessment from Alabama’s senior senator comes less than a month after the highest-ranking U.S. military officer described the nation’s relations with China and Russia as “fraying.”

In an address to graduates of the United States Air Force Academy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said, “Right now we are in a great power competition with China and Russia. And we need to keep it at competition and avoid great power conflict.”

Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

Shelby addressed both officials in his remarks, stating, “The world is a complex and dangerous place and I know that you both understand the magnitude of the challenges we face from our near peer adversaries who seek to undermine the United States’ position as a world leader and dominant military power. China and Russia are formidable adversaries and China, as you have acknowledged Secretary Austin, is proving to be a true pacing threat. China seeks hegemony – militarily, technologically, economically, and geopolitically – and is making unprecedented investments to see that to fruition.”

“Meanwhile, Russia is nearing the end of a massive military modernization program that saw its defense spending increase 30 percent in real dollars over the last 10 years,” he added.

Shelby concluded that he could not support an effective cut in defense spending in 2022.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

9 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl urges Biden to undergo tests for ‘mental impairment’

U.S. Representative Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) joined 13 of his congressional colleagues in urging President Joe Biden to undergo an examination to determine his mental fitness to serve.

The group cited a string of embarrassing verbal gaffes by the president as the basis for their request.

In a letter sent to Biden on Thursday, the Republican members of Congress explained, “We write to you today to express concern with your current cognitive state. We believe that, regardless of gender, age, or political party, all Presidents should follow the precedent set by former President Donald Trump to document and demonstrate sound mental abilities.”

They continued, “Unfortunately, your mental decline and forgetfulness have become more apparent over the past 18 months. In March, you forgot the name of the Pentagon, the Department of Defense, and the Defense Secretary, though you had said ‘Secretary Austin’ just a few minutes prior.”

In addition, the letter cites Biden’s telling of an Amtrak story with an inexplicable timeline, forgetting the first line of the Declaration of Independence and obvious disorientation during a visit to Texas as examples for why they believe Biden is in need of cognitive testing.

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The list of gaffes attributable to his mental acuity seems to be piling up for the 46th president.

During the G7 Summit in England recently, he asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce the South African president.

RELATED: Biden lashes out at media member and Alabama native Kaitlan Collins over Putin — ‘You’re in the wrong business’

Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce has questioned whether Biden’s cognitive state is a national security liability.

Biden has received criticism in the early stages of his administration for calling on only a predetermined list of reporters during press conferences. The most recent instance of this occurred while Biden was in Geneva, Switzerland, for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Carl and the other letter signers pushed for transparency with any medical assessments being made, as well.

“We encourage you to follow the example set by President Trump by undergoing a cognitive test as soon as possible and immediately making the results available for the American people,” they concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

10 hours ago

ALGOP chair John Wahl: AEA resurgence ‘a concern’; Reminds GOP candidates ‘not a good idea’ accept their campaign contributions

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Alabama Education Association (AEA) seemingly flexed its muscle at the end of the 2021 legislative session by successfully pushing through a two-year delay to the Literacy Act, which mandates children be able to read at a third grade level before proceeding to the fourth grade.

Gov. Kay Ivey vetoed the delay, but it left political watchers wondering if this was just the beginning of the AEA’s return to the forefront of Alabama politics.

During an appearance on FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl said it was indeed a concern for the party.

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“[I]t’s funny you bring that up because at one point in the past, there was actually a resolution passed by the state party, I believe, that was saying Republican candidates should not take money from the AEA because of their influence and the concern they would have over direct policy,” he stated. “So, of course, that’s a concern. That type of influence from anybody pushing to regulate themselves is never — you don’t want a group regulating themselves. That’s not good for policy.”

While there was a resolution in place that pertained to AEA campaign contributions to Republican candidates, Wahl said it was not an outright ban but a “strong recommendation” not to accept their money.

“I need to go back and look at the resolution in-depth,” Wahl said. “But I believe it was a resolution, so it’s not a direct ban. There’s no teeth to it. But it was a very strong recommendation to candidates — that it is not a good idea to take that money.”

“[T]here were jokes about how the AEA controlled the state and had a vast amount of control over policy and what would happen with the Governor’s office, the state legislature,” he explained. “So much of that has gotten better since Republicans have taken control. But you’re right — we’re seeing a resurgence, at least of their involvement. Hopefully not their influence.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.