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Dallas County is a key employer in the Black Belt

By Wayne Vardaman

For the third time in recent months, individuals have commented to me that it’s a shame we didn’t get more out of the Hyundai plant. My response: We got more than 500 jobs.

I’m beginning to realize that our community has no idea how much industry we are blessed to have in Dallas County. So I would like to bring everyone up to date, not only on the new jobs we received because Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Ala. located in Hope Hull but also on the numerous other industries in Dallas County.

Following the Hyundai announcement, the EDA immediately began to entertain supplier prospects looking to locate in close proximity to the new assembly plant.

Project Reno visited Dallas County for the first time in April 2003 resulting in the March 2004 announcement that Renosol Seating would locate in Dallas County and hire 120 employees. The company purchased a 50,000 sq. ft. spec building and 12.5 acres of land from the Craig Field Airport & Industrial Authority.

Renosol manufactures molded polyurethane foam for automotive seats, armrests, headrests, and console cushions. The company is a tier 2 supplier, delivering their product to Lear in Montgomery which is a tier 1 supplier to Hyundai.

Renosol currently employs 140 people and have had as many as 200.

In spring 2005, The EDA began working on Project Bird, another Hyundai supplier. This was a very fast paced project with Hanil E-Hwa Interior Systems Ala. announcing its choice to locate here in early August 2005.

Hanil E-Hwa purchased the former American Candy building in the Craig Industrial Park and added 100,000 sq. ft.

They are a first tier supplier of interior trim shipping directly to Hyundai. They currently provide 324 jobs.

These two Hyundai suppliers are not the only automotive suppliers located in our community. We also have an automotive supplier in the Bell Road Industrial Park and another in the Selfield Park.

Honda Lock America, better known as HL-A, operates in the Bell Road Park. This is a Japanese company that supplies lock sets for Honda and other automotive brands. HL-A currently employs 256 people.

In the Selfield Park, we have Grede Selma, which was formerly Citation. This company makes ductile iron castings and supplies their products to the automotive industry, farm implement manufacturers, and others. They currently provide 57 jobs.

These four automotive suppliers add up to over 800 automotive-related jobs in our community.

I would also like to remind you of the numerous other manufacturers that provide jobs for our community and the counties that surround us. A fact that many do not realize is that more than 5,000 people commute daily to work in Dallas County. Our community doesn’t just supply jobs for our citizens. We provide jobs for many more people throughout central Alabama too.

Our largest industrial employer is International Paper’s Riverdale Mill with 835 employees. Other companies providing jobs for between 100 and 400 individuals each include American Apparel, Bush Hog, Crown Health Care Laundry, Global Security Glazing, Globe Metallurgical, Miller & Company, Plantation Patterns, R. L. Zeigler, and Rayco Industrial.

In addition we have numerous smaller industrial and distribution employers like Bama Budweiser, Coastal Recycling, Cosby-Carmichael, Crop Production Services, FEMA – Selma Staging Site, Henry Brick Company, Kelly Food Concepts, LaBour Pumps, PalletOne, Pepsi-Cola, and Schnitzer Steel Southeast.

Compared to 10 Ala. counties with similar populations, Dallas County ranks second in the number of manufacturing establishments.

As previously reported, although no new industry was announced last year, six existing industries in Dallas County reported expansions resulting in 260 new jobs in 2010.

These expansions gave Dallas County a rank of 12th in number of new jobs and 20th in capital investment in Alabama.

Statewide and overall, new jobs and existing industry expansions, Dallas County ranked 13th in the number of new jobs and 23rd in capital investment.

We can always do better, but I don’t think people realize how well we are doing and just how well off we are.

Together we work.