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Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 10:46am

Kia Expansion Leads Growth

The Kia plant in West Point is adding production shifts. The increase comes after a $100 million expansion completed in December.

Kia went from being able to produce 300 thousand vehicles a year, to 360 thousand a year.

That allows the carmaker to keep up with demand for the popular Optima and Sorento vehicles.

The plant is running a lot of overtime, and even some Saturdays.

Kia spokesman Randy Jackson says their local suppliers are also expanding.

“Mando just announced their second facility, that’s going to be up in the Hogansville area. We’ve had a lot of our suppliers move to additional shifts because we are now on three shifts. Our transmission plant, Powertech, is going to expand to three shifts, which is going to generate some more jobs and growth.”

Powertech announced it will add about 200 new jobs.

Becca Hardin with the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, says every one of Kia’s suppliers has expanded.

“Two projects that we’ve been working in Harris County are Johnson Controls and Daehan Solutions. And within the past year both of those companies have doubled the capacity of their plants with expansion projects.”

AFS America announced it will locate a floor mat plant in nearby Columbus, bringing 65 new jobs.

The plant makes Optimas, Sorentos and Santa Fe’s. Jackson says Optimas have been particularly popular.

Dr. Drew Ferguson, Mayor of West Point, says west Georgia was hit hard when textile jobs moved overseas.

He says Kia has helped lift up the area.

" You cannot underestimate the importance of having manufacturing in a local economy. It's a very stabilizing force, it's a predictable force."

Ferguson says the area has a diverse economic base, but Kia has added a tremendous boost to west Georgia.

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