Georgia will be building Kia cars. A deal with the Korean auto-maker, signed in March, should produce at least 4,500 jobs and 300,000 vehicles a year. The $1.2 billion facility, scheduled for completion in 2009, will be located in the small town of West Point, southwest of Atlanta.
The announcement couldn't have come at a better time for Georgia. The state has lost more than 80,000 manufacturing jobs in the past six years. In the past few months alone, both Ford and General Motors announced they were shuttering auto plants in Georgia, for a combined loss of 5,000 jobs.
Georgia has wooed other automobile companies before, losing out twice on efforts to site a DaimlerChrysler facility. For the Kia deal, the state offered a $400 million incentives package, including nearly $200 million in state and local tax breaks. The state also will pay for employee relocation expenses, a training center and new or improved roads, parking lots, landscaping and lighting. Georgia was competing with Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and other states for the Kia facility.
Last month, a bribery scandal involving Kia and its parent company, Hyundai Motor Corp., threatened to sideline the Georgia deal. Prosecutors in Korea suspect Hyundai of paying Korean government officials for favorable construction permits. In their investigation, Korean officials barred the president of Kia from leaving the country. The bribery imbroglio forced the company to delay the groundbreaking at the Georgia factory site, and they did not immediately set a new date. State officials remained confident that the delay in the kickoff ceremony would not affect the construction of the plant.