Troy, county situated for tier-one supplier

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Messenger Publisher

Troy and Pike County are "perfectly situated" to land a tier-one supplier to Hyundai’s $1 billion manufacturing plant being built in Hope Hull.

So said Gov. Don Siegelman after his "jobs tour" through Troy early Monday.

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"For me, it was a great visit; I learned something that I can use to get out and recruit jobs for the state," Siegelman said.

The governor and several members of TEAM Alabama took part in an hour-long mock site visit as part of his "Communities of Excellence" jobs tour. Taking off his governor hat, Siegelman assumed the role of corporate CEO for the visit.

"I’m here in a different role today," he said during a welcome at the Sanders’ hangar at the Troy Airport. "Not necessarily as governor, but to walk through this exercise as a CEO looking for a place to call home."

From the sign welcoming the governor – written in both English and Korean – to the specially printed business cards – again written in both English and Korean – Troy officials sought to make a positive impression on the governor.

"The people in this community have done a great job of putting Troy’s best food forward," Siegelman said. "There’s no doubt in my mind that Troy, Ala., is extraordinarily positioned to locate a tier-one supplier; you have everything going for you."

Most important, he said, "the visit I had today would’ve been enough to get me back for a second visit."

Nexton Marshall Jr., director for the Center for Economic Growth, was part of the TEAM Alabama group taking part in the visit. He said he was "duly impressed" with the efforts of local leaders.

"Part of the reason for this tour is so that every community within the reasonable distance to be a tier-one supplier have an equal opportunity to recruit" the suppliers, Marshall said.

"Had I been doing a report card on this morning, I’d have to say you’d pass with very good marks," he said during the debriefing after the tour.

The visit was designed to mock a site visit by a potential industry representative. And, despite impromptu press conferences and the media coverage of the governor, local leaders said they tried to give the same presentation they would to any potential employer.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford, Pike County Commissioner Karen Berry and Pike County Chamber of Commerce President Marsha Gaylard conducted the site visit, which included a driving tour of several key areas, including industrial park sites and available buildings, and a conversations about the highlights of how Troy and Pike County measure up on the 10-point Communities of Excellence standard.

The visit also included a tour of KW Plastics, recognized as the world’s largest recycler of polypropylene plastics and a company recognized as the only Key 1Certified recycler which sells to Ford Motor Company.

The company ships about 1 million pounds of plastics each day to companies around the world, and local leaders have said that KW Plastics could be positioned to capitalize on the Hyundai opportunity.

The governor agreed. "I’m going to be trying to sell somebody into building a plastics molding plant here to link with KW Plastics and build parts" for automotive suppliers throughout the state, including Hyundai’s planned facility.

A new industrial access road, funded by an Alabama Department of Transportation grant, will open more access to KW Plastics, as well. The project predates the Hyundai opportunity.

Marshall said Alabama Development Office officials will provide local leaders with a more detail evaluation of the site visit within four to six weeks.