The spillover effect

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 1, 2003

One state official says a Hyundai supplier could pay more than prevailing local wages and have numerous other positive benefits for the local economy.

Robert Sutton, manager of the economic research and communications division of the

Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, said the competition to get a Hyundai supplier is fierce for a reason.

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&uot;Of course, it depends on what supplier it is, but you'd want one because you're going to get the jobs at the plant. They won't pay quite as high as at the main assembly plant, but they'll probably pay more than prevailing wages,&uot; he said.

The effects of those jobs will spill over into the entire community and local economy.

&uot;You're talking about more groceries and houses, insurance, everything. That dollar will roll over several times,&uot; he said.

What does it take to land a supplier? Sutton said there are numerous factors.

&uot;Working together is on the top of the list. It's important to make sure there is no controversy between different factions,&uot; he said. &uot;Of course, you need an available labor force. Local people would need to do a labor survey. You've got to have a site, which will need infrastructure like gas, electricity, water and sewage. Since these suppliers are on a fast track, these things would need to be in place at someplace like an industrial park.&uot;

The ADO has been a critical liaison between the Hyundai suppliers and the towns looking for jobs and an economic boost.

&uot;At ADO we have a list of available sites, and we get in touch with local communities that show that they have something close,&uot; he said. &uot;The suppliers find the best spot and it's more of an elimination process, where they rule out the ones that don't meet their needs.&uot;

Surrounding the entire recruitment process has been a thick layer of secrecy. The negotiations are conducted behind closed doors and civic leaders have refused to discuss which suppliers are being lured and what efforts are being made to attract them. Though the companies are often being wooed with taxpayer dollars, Sutton said the secrecy often came at the request of the companies.

&uot;The primary thing is that if the info gets out, they'll drop you from the list,&uot; he said. &uot;They don't want the competition to know what they're doing and other people may be competing for supplier positions. If somebody is looking at moving a plant from one place to another, they wouldn't want the current workforce to know about it or they might not want competition to know if there's a new product being developed.&uot;

Troy officials have been cloaked in secrecy regarding the possibility of landing a Hyundai supplier.

Mayor Jimmy Lunsford declined to comment on the negotiations and Marsha Gaylard, head of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation, would only confirm that a Hyundai supplier would be a welcome addition to the Troy area.

&uot;Troy is being looked at by numerous companies that will supply component parts to the Hyundai plant locating in Hope Hull, Alabama. If one of these companies should decide to locate in Troy, it would mean hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars of capital investment in our community, which would tremendously impact our economy. The other suppliers that have located in nearby communities will also have a positive impact on Troy and Pike County since we are a regional hub providing shopping, medical services and entertainment opportunities for these communities,&uot; she said.

The head of the Troy Chamber of Commerce deferred all comment to Gaylard

&uot;The Chamber supports the Pike County Economic Development Corporation in all their efforts for recruitment and this is an economic development issue, we would leave any commenting to the PCEDC,&uot; said Jenniffer Barner.

Sutton said the process of luring automobile parts suppliers could drag on for years. He said automotives have been the driving factor in Alabama's economy for the past decade and said several suppliers were still locating in the state from the Honda and Mercedes plants built several years ago.

&uot;In the first wave they'll be here within a few months because they have to be up and running by 2005,&uot; he said. &uot;They have to get schedules and products and processes into one very large and complicated scenario. But once the plant is up and running, more tier 1 may come into other areas and certainly tier 2 and 3 will come after that.&uot;