Hanwha L&C Corp. is investing $15 million to expand its Opelika, Ala., plant, joining the ranks of other auto suppliers boosting production in the region.
The company, which molds glass-mat thermoplastics and expanded polypropylene in Opelika for structural bumper components such as bumper beams, will add 42,000 square feet and 45 jobs at the plant.
Based in Seoul, South Korea, the company also makes flooring, window profile extrusions and packaging films.
The expansion comes three years after the facility first opened then under the name of Maxforma Plastics LLC to supply parts for South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co.'s new plant in Montgomery, Ala.
Now with Seoul-based Hyundai's sister company, Kia Motors Corp., building its own $1 billion assembly plant in West Point, Ga., Hyundai suppliers including Hanwha are busy expanding to make parts for both automakers, which is creating a manufacturing boom for the area.
``This is our second expansion as a result of the Kia plant,'' said Alfred Cook Jr., director of the Opelika Economic Development Department.
Opelika, which sits about midway between Montgomery and West Point, has been a hub for suppliers to the Korean automakers. Just two weeks ago, Mando America Corp., which makes suspension parts, announced it will invest more than $20 million to expand production there. Opelika also is Mando's headquarters in North America.
Other Hyundai suppliers are building new plants for Kia business growth. South Korea's Hyundai Mobis Group, which molds interior parts in Montgomery, is building a $60 million lant in West Point to make front-end modules, cockpits, front and rear bumpers and other parts for Kia.
That plant, set to open by 2010, will employ 600.