WEST POINT, Ga. (AP) — A $100 million expansion of the Kia Motors plant in West Point has been completed, according to executives with Kia MotorsManufacturing Georgia Inc.
The expansion, which included the addition of employees, increased the plant's capacity to a total of 360,000 vehicles per year, company officials said.
The expansion includes a 5,400-ton transfer press, additional robots in the welding shop and enlargements to the paint shop, production line and railroad spur, The LaGrange Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/AcNinU).
The move was in preparation for production of the Kia Optima, which rolled off the assembly lines in September. The plant started hiring in April and brought its total workforce to more than 3,000.
The new jobs and increased volume represent "continued evidence of our commitment to the U.S. and local economies," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO for Kia Motors America and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.
"Kia experienced record-breaking growth again in 2011, led by the best-selling Sorento and the critically-acclaimed Optima," he said. Both vehicles are being built at the Georgia plant, which is just east of the Alabama state line along Interstate 85.
The plant and its suppliers have contributed to an increase in economic activity in Troup County, local leaders say.
"I think it's really helped save our economy from the jobs we lost with manufacturers leaving or closing down because Kia replaced those jobs," said Page Estes, president of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce.