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 Fall 2015 News

Fall 2015

For real-time news on business, politics and economic development in the South, go to For all projects announced in the South, go to For more information on the automotive industry in the South, go to And for more information on rural development in the South, visit

Nissan making new Altima sedan at Southern plants
The 2016 Nissan Altima, made at plants in Mississippi and Tennessee, has been redesigned to have a sportier, sleeker design.Nissan is launching production of an updated version of the midsized Altima sedan at assembly plants in Canton, Miss., and Smyrna, Tenn. (North America's highest-producing auto factory). The Japanese automaker's U.S. plants have combined to make more than 5.5 million Altimas since 1992.


Alabama's Mercedes-Benz plant announces $1.3 billion, 300-job expansion
In September, Mercedes-Benz announced a $1.3 billion, 300-job expansion of its Alabama auto assembly plant. The project represents one of the largest single investments to date for the German automaker at the Tuscaloosa County site. The project will include the construction of a new 1.3 million-square-foot body shop, the rebuilding of part of the existing body shop, an expansion of the SUV assembly shop and various upgrades.

Yorozu to invest $100 million, create 300 jobs in Alabama
Yorozu Corp., a Tier 1 automotive supplier headquartered in Yokohama, Japan, announced plans to build a new state-of-the-art metal stamping plant in Jasper, Ala. The company has pledged to invest more than $100 million to build and equip the facility that will create 300 new jobs.

Auto parts distributor opens plant in Shorter, Ala.
LogisAll is moving into an existing 40,000-square-foot warehouse in Shorter, Ala. The company will distribute auto parts to automobile plants in the state and will create 60 jobs.

Michigan-based Shape Corp. will open a new injection-molding and roll-forming operation in the north Alabama city of Athens.Auto parts supplier building plant in North Alabama
Shape Corp., a maker of injection molded and roll formed automotive parts, is setting up a new operation in Limestone County, Ala. The $24 million plant will house 170 workers.

Flex-N-Gate to expand Bessemer, Ala., facility, add 107 jobs
Bessemer beat out Mexico for an expansion of a $23.9 million automotive parts manufacturing facility that will add 107 jobs. Flex-N-Gate will start producing front-end and rear bumpers for Nissan at its Bessemer facility, which already has 180 employees.


Kumho Tire plant prepares to open in Macon, Ga.; 1,500 apply
Kumho Tires has resumed construction of its manufacturing plant in Macon, Ga. The facility, set to open in 2016, will cost $413 million.The long-awaited Kumho Tire manufacturing plant in Macon, Ga., is on track to open in early 2016. The company plans to begin hiring about 300 workers for the 1-million-square-foot facility, and expects to ultimately hire 450 workers.

Semi-trailer plant bringing 400 jobs to Georgia
A one-year backlog of orders is one reason why Vanguard National Trailer Corp, based in Monon, Ind., has decided to build a new assembly plant in Trenton, Ga. The $30 million manufacturing plant eventually will employ 400 people and crank out 10,000 semi-trailers annually.


Toyota is now making a Lexus in Georgetown, Ky.
Toyota Motor Corp. is now producing the Lexus ES 350 at its plant in Georgetown, Ky., where the Toyota Camry, Avalon and Venza also are produced. The new vehicle comes after a $350 million investment by the company. Upgrades at the plant have been incoming during the last two and a half years. Toyota also added 750 jobs related to the launch.

Ford expanding truck plant in Louisville
Ford Motor Co. intends to boost the size of its stamping facility, body shop and materials handling at the Kentucky Truck Plant. The company is seeking approval to add a total of 288,715 square feet at a handful of locations on its 413-acre site. Ford officials said that "we cannot discuss future manufacturing or product plans."

Big auto parts supplier deal in Kentucky
Bowling Green Metalforming, an automotive parts supplier to several OEMs, is investing $261 million to upgrade equipment and add 260,000 square feet of space at its facility in Bowling Green. It is the sixth expansion for the company, which opened 10 years ago. The deal will create 450 jobs.

Supplier of aluminum automotive parts expanding in Kentucky
Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products announced in the fall it will invest $57 million to expand its facilities in Bowling Green, Ky. The Japanese supplier of lightweight aluminum parts will hire 112 employees.

Spanish auto parts maker announces two new plants in Louisville
Spanish auto parts maker Grupo Antolin, which employs about 350 workers at its plant in Hopkinsville, Ky., announced it will open two interior component plants in Louisville. Grupo Antolin, which employs about 350 workers at its plant in Hopkinsville, Ky., announced it will open two interior component plants in Louisville. The $13.7 million projects will generate 200 new jobs.

Auto supplier to open new facility in rural Kentucky
Auto supplier TWB is opening a new $7.7 parts plant in Glasgow, Ky. The deal will create 12 jobs.

New factory brings more jobs to Corbin, Ky.
Kowa recently held a grand opening for its new factory in Corbin. The company makes fuel delivery pipes for vehicle engines. Company leaders say this is their first facility outside of Asia and it could create as many as 30 jobs in the Corbin area.

American Howa Kentucky expanding
American Howa Kentucky, a supplier of automotive interior components, is adding 60,000 square feet and jobs at its plant in Midway, Ky. The $13.1 million expansion will create 54 jobs.

German-based company to create 110 jobs in Kentucky
A German-based auto supplier will create 110 jobs in Bowling Green as part of the company's $130 million investment. The Bilstein Group will build a cold-rolling steel manufacturing facility at the Kentucky Transpark in Warren County.


Nissan's Mississippi plant sets record for vehicles assembled
Nissan's Canton, Miss., plant expects to roll out 350,000 vehicles this year. The plant produced a record-breaking 33,000 vehicles in November. Nissan employs about 6,000 people at the plant.

Yokohama opens plant in West Point, Miss.
Phase I of Yokohama's tire plant in West Point, Miss., opened in the fall quarter. Announced in 2013, the $300 million plant will house 500 workers initially. The company has already purchased land adjacent to the new plant, possibly leading to as many as 2,000 employees as the plant grows into additional phases.

Automotive component manufacturer growing in Mississippi
R-Squared Puckett, a maker of aluminum heat exchangers for the automotive and air conditioner industries, is expanding in Rankin County, Miss. The $2 million project will create 50 jobs bringing employment at the facility to 200.


LMV Automotive Systems completes $90 million hub in Liberty, Mo.
LMV Automotive Systems, an auto parts manufacturer, completed its new $90 million manufacturing facility and Innovation and Training Center in Liberty, Mo. The new center, located in the company's recently completed 469,600-square-foot facility, is expected to train hundreds of employees its first year in skilled trades and world-class manufacturing best practices.

Tier 1 supplier expanding in Missouri
Detroit Tool Metal Products, a Tier 1 supplier to the transportation, industrial and agriculture industries, is expanding its plant in Lebanon, Mo. The deal includes a $4.2 million investment and the creation of 30 jobs.


Automotive aluminum manufacturer expands in N.C.
U.K.-based GKN Sinter Metals, a maker of GKN developed Powder Metal Aluminum materials used in the automotive industry and other industries, is expanding its plant in Catawba County, N.C. The company will invest $19.8 million and add 55 jobs at is aluminum plant in Conover.

BorgWarner announces 60 jobs in Arden, N.C.
BorgWarner's facility in Arden, N.C., is providing a new line of turbochargers for GM and will be adding 60 jobs for its third-shift positions. "We're excited to announce that BorgWarner is providing a new line of Turbochargers for General Motors for the 2016 production launch year," said Leandro Pena, BorgWarner Human Resource Director. As a result, the Michigan-based powertrain company is hiring 60 new people for third-shift positions.

Automotive manufacturer to add 75 jobs in Sanford, N.C.
Automotive manufacturer Magneti Marelli Powertrain will invest $12 million to expand its operation in Lee County and will add 76 jobs in the next few years.


Volvo breaks ground on $500 million plant in South Carolina
Volvo has broken ground on its first auto manufacturing plant in North America – a $500 million facility in Berkeley County, about 30 miles northwest of Charleston. The plant will build the company's new S-60 sedan. It will also manufacture a second model to be announced. The first car is expected in 2018.

Volvo incentives contract with South Carolina revealed
In a story published by the Columbia, S.C., newspaper The State, Sweden-based Volvo must create 2,000 jobs in its first phase by December 31, 2023 and invest at least $600 million for the automaker to receive $200 million in incentives from the state, local entities and the utility Santee Cooper. Volvo expects to invest $1 billion and house 4,000 in the facility by 2030. Initial production is small, pegged at 57,000 vehicles. That is expected to rise to 100,000 units within 10 years.

Continental Tire breaks ground on South Carolina expansion
Continental Tire the Americas broke ground in September on a $500 million expansion of its nearly 2-year-old Sumter plant that will double annual capacity to 8 million passenger and light truck tires by 2021. The expansion, part of Conti's original plans for the factory, will create up to 800 jobs at the plant.

Alkane Trucks, which run on liquid propane and natural gas, will soon be built in Dorchester County, S.C. Over 300 jobs will be created at the assembly plant.Truck manufacturer to open plant in S.C.
Alkane Truck Company, a commercial truck manufacturer, is locating a plant in Dorchester County, S.C., in the Summerville area. Alkane trucks run on liquid propane and natural gas. The deal will create 300 new jobs.

Auto supplier expanding in S.C.
JTEKT, a Japanese auto parts supplier, is investing $1.75 million at its plant in Greenville County. The company is establishing a headquarters at CU-ICAR that will house 27 employees.

S.C. automotive supplier expands
Greenville-based Sage Automotive is buying new equipment for its two plants in Abbeville County, S.C. The plants, which house 147 and 240 workers, make fabric used by a variety of automakers. Sage is investing $4 million in the deal.

BMW supplier plans $50 million plant in Greenville County, S.C.
Magna International, a Canada-based automotive supplier, is expanding its operations with a new manufacturing facility in Greenville County. The $50.8 million investment is expected to hire 153 workers to make molded and painted assemblies for the outside front and back ends of BMW automobiles.

Another Chinese plant to be built in the South
China-based Suzhou Glacier Import and Export Co. announced it will move into an existing 170,000-square-foot facility in Travelers Rest, S.C., to produce fabric for automotive interiors. The $26 million deal will create more than 100 jobs.

Duncan, S.C., auto supplier expanding, adding 94 jobs
Germany-based Draxlmaier Group will expand by investing $35 million to build a new facility in Spartanburg County. The tier-one automotive supplier of interiors and plastic components plans to add 94 jobs.

Kirchner Konstruktionen establishing U.S. headquarters in South Carolina
Kirchner Konstruktionen, a German company that specializes in the planning, design, simulation and commissioning of equipment for the automotive sector, is establishing its first U.S. operations in Greenville County under the name Kirchner Design Inc. The company is investing more than $1 million in the project, and creating 30 new jobs.


VW's Chattanooga expansion moves ahead despite scandal, officials say
Volkswagen, a key supplier and local governments are scheduled to move ahead on the Chattanooga plant expansion, even as the carmaker faces headwinds because of the emissions scandal. The buying of new plant equipment, finalizing land transactions and signing off on the state's $165.7 million grant for the automaker's $600 million project are among several deals the city's Industrial Development Board will consider.

Van and truck manufacturer opening plant in Loudon, Tenn.
Michigan-based Morgan Olson, an original equipment manufacturer of delivery trucks, is opening a factory in Loudon, Tenn. Up to 500 workers will be hired initially at the plant. Michigan-based Morgan Olson, an original equipment manufacturer of delivery trucks used by FedEx, UPS and the USPS, is opening a factory in Loudon, Tenn. The company is expanding to the South because its factory in Michigan is at full capacity. The company purchases basic truck chassis from major automakers, then assembles its own aluminum van bodies that are designed as delivery trucks. Up to 500 workers will be hired initially at the plant.

Medical devices take backseat to carmakers in Tennessee
In its latest ranking of state exports, NerdWallet shows that car manufacturing has taken over the top spot from medical instruments in Tennessee. In 2014, Tennessee exported more than $2.64 billion worth of cars and passenger vehicles, marking a nearly 24 percent increase from 2013. With that leap, car and passenger vehicles hold an 8 percent share of the state's total exports and 6 percent of all domestically made cars.

Auto parts maker expands in East Tennessee
Auto parts manufacturer East Bend Manufacturing is expanding again in Anderson County, Tenn. The company is investing $55 million in its Clinton plant and will hire 127 more workers.

Alcoa completes Tennessee automotive expansion to meet demand for aluminum vehicles
U.S. specialty metals manufacturer Alcoa has completed a second significant North American expansion this year to meet rising demand for lighter materials for use in the automotive sector. Alcoa invested $300 million in the latest Tennessee expansion.

SaarGummi Tennessee expands in Pulaski, Tenn.
SaarGummi Tennessee, a manufacturer of sealing systems for the automotive industry, will expand its manufacturing operations in Pulaski with the creation of more than 150 new jobs over the next five years.

Gestamp putting third plant in Chattanooga
Spanish automotive supplier Gestamp has bought a vacant candy plant in Chattanooga where it will locate chassis production for Volkswagen's new SUV. The move will give Gestamp three production plants in Chattanooga as it tweaks its $180 million expansion plan unveiled earlier this summer.


Toyota to add 275 workers in San Antonio, invest $26 million
The Tacoma is selling so well, Toyota is hiring 275 additional people and shifting to a six-day week to build the truck in San Antonio. The Japanese automaker is currently in the process of moving its North American headquarters to Plano.


New customer service center at Volvo Truck plant brings jobs to Southwest Virginia
Volvo will invest $38 million for upgrades at its existing plant and build a new Customer Service Center. The facility will be 36,000 square feet and will bring 32 new jobs to the area, which will bring the total number of jobs at the plant to nearly 3,000.


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