Although Hyundai Heavy Industries held the ceremonial groundbreaking for its new Montgomery manufacturing plant, workers have been preparing the construction site for more than a month.
The plant will be called Hyundai Power Transformers USA. When it is complete in early 2012, it will employ around 500 people in four buildings with a combined area of about 270,000 square feet.
Hyundai Heavy Industries is spending about $90 million on the plant.
The plant will produce industrial transformers that weigh up to 500 tons and are used mostly by utility companies.
Montgomery companies W.S. Newell and Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood began site preparation on Aug. 11. Since then, the firms have moved about 200,000 cubic yards of dirt on the 40-acre site in the South Montgomery Industrial Park.
While tons of dirt have been moved in the past month, company and local officials gathered Friday to turn a dozen or so shovels full of earth in the ceremony to launch plant construction.
Neal Wade, outgoing director of the Alabama Development Office, noted the state's unemployment rate has been dropping for several months.
"This is going to help it go down even more," he said.
Wade said companies such as Hyundai Power Transformers have helped enhance Alabama's reputation as a good location for multinational companies internationally.
"Alabama has become known as a truly international state," he said.
Hyundai Heavy was once part of the same company as Hyundai Motor Co. Although the two firms now maintain no formal connection, the relationship was not lost on those speaking Friday.
Gov. Bob Riley said it was important that Alabama win the project during a 10-month site selection process, and not only for the jobs it will bring.
"Hyundai is ours," he said. "Even though it is not the automotive sector, the name is ours."
Gun Shim, a director of Pacific Gas and Electric, one of Hyundai Heavy's biggest U.S. customers, said he was eager to start buying U.S.-made transformers.
"We are looking forward to what Hyundai Heavy Industries can do here in a couple of years," he said.
Hyundai Heavy announced the location of its first U.S. plant barely two months ago on July 16.
The plant will have an office, training center, main assembly shop and fabrication shop on the site, according to plans released Friday.
Source: Montgomery Advertiser