The Alabama cities of Valley and Lanett have lost 1,000 textile jobs over the last year.
But the Chambers County communities, located about 45 minutes north of Columbus, have suddenly made up that lost work force in a big way.
Three Kia Motors auto parts suppliers have committed to the area's Cusseta Industrial Park off Interstate 85. Combined, they represent nearly 800 jobs for the county that, at 6.3 percent, has one of the highest unemployment rates in Alabama.
The South Korea-based firms will supply the 2.4-million-square-foot Kia factory now under construction in West Point, Ga., about a 15-minute drive northeast of Valley and Lanett.
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The first to commit to the communities along the Georgia-Alabama border was South Korea-based Daeki America, which announced its intentions in early January, then broke ground Tuesday on a 42,000-square-foot facility. The company, which makes vehicle air filters, is investing $7.4 million into the plant that will eventually employ 80.
The big catches, however, are A-Jin Industrial Co. and MP Tech Inc., both also from South Korea and, like Daeki, building their first U.S. plants.
A-Jin is a metal stamping company that will invest nearly $89 million into a 330,000-square-foot factory. It will ramp up to 450 employees over three years, according to the Industrial Development Authority of Chambers County.
MP Tech manufactures LED lighting. It is investing $30 million into a 150,000-square-foot facility that will have 250 on its payroll.
READ MORE IN WEDNESDAY'S COLUMBUS LEDGER-ENQUIRER