Georgia Gets Kia Nod?

February 26, 2006
South Korea’s second-largest automaker, Kia Motors, is considering building its planned U.S. plant in the state of Georgia, not in Mississippi, a local report from the latter state said. (And not Lauderdale County, as other Web sites have reported--there is no Lauderdale County, Ga.)

Since last year, Kia Motors, an affiliate of South Korea's top automaker Hyundai, has been looking for a site in the U.S. to set up a production line. Company officials were quoted that Georgia is the most probable candidate, unless other states offer unprecedented incentives.

Georgia has been a frequent loser in the bidding for new automotive plants. Just last year, DaimlerChrysler officially quashed plans to build a Sprinter plant outside Savannah. Ford had identified a site in Meriwether County on which had intended to build a new plant, only to cancel plans and eventually, announce the closing of its Atlanta plant. Last year, Kia officials were said to have chosen a site in eastern Mississippi for the plant, but that may have been done to encourage other states to sharpen their bids.

If Georgia does win the battle of state incentives, it will be out of keen economic need. The state is faced with the loss of about 5000 jobs in the next two years as Ford closes the Hapeville plant that builds the Taurus and the Doraville plant that builds GM minivans. Both plants are in the metro Atlanta area, while the site of the new Kia plant would likely be a Greenfield location on the I-85 corridor linking Atlanta and Montgomery, Ala., the site of Kia sister company Hyundai’s new assembly plant.

Georgia is also facing the bankruptcy of Delta Airlines and the loss of a huge military base within the city, Fort McPherson.—Peter Chang and Marty Padgett

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