Above: Yorozu Automotive Alabama is expected to supply parts to the Honda plant in Lincoln. (contributed)
Alabama Power’s innovative approach using a 25-year-old economic development program played a critical role in Japanese auto supplier Yorozu selecting Jasper Industrial Park as the site for a $100 million plant that will create 300 jobs.
Alabama Power Economic & Community Development officials worked with the Walker County Development Authority to use its speculative building program. The 50-acre site in 400-acre Jasper Industrial Park was Yorozu’s choice for the new auto parts plant that will supply multiple automakers.
“When the Jasper Industrial Development Board purchased the property for the new industrial park, the greatest need was for a prepared site,” said David Knight, executive director of the Walker County Development Authority. “We approached Alabama Power because we had used its spec building program in the past and wondered if those funds could be used to prepare a site instead of building a speculative building.”
The spec building program has led to companies opening 25 plants across the state that have created nearly 1,400 jobs.
“One of the most critical needs in economic development is having a building or a site that is as ready as possible for a company to be able to move in and start operating,” Ken Novak, vice president of Economic & Community Development at Alabama Power.
Blair King is the senior project manager at Alabama Power who worked with Jasper, Walker County and state officials on recruiting Yorozu. He said it became clear that the company based in Japan was happy to see a prepared site off Interstate 22 in Jasper.
“Anything you can do to make it easier and less expensive for a manufacturer to get up and running is important in recruiting new industry,” King said. “This was an effective use of the spec building program that did what it was intended to do, which is to bring new jobs and investment to Alabama.”
Knight said the presence of Yorozu could accelerate the development of other sites in the Jasper Industrial Park.
“Having a prepared site allowed us to be considered by a number of projects before finally landing Yorozu,” Knight said. “We know how important it is to have product to show to prospects.”
Yorozu Automotive Alabama will produce stamped auto parts when the plant is completed in January 2017. Construction of the plant will begin by January 2016.
“With the completion of I-22 just around the corner, coupled with a project of this magnitude with Yorozu Automotive in Jasper, the future of this corridor is very exciting,” King said.