Proposed car plant could help county, experts say

Published 4:37 am Monday, September 28, 2009

By By Lisa Tindell
news editor

Escambia County may not be the chosen site for a proposed hybrid car manufacturing plant, but as a neighbor to the selected Baldwin County site, residents here could have great employment opportunities, economic development officials said.
Hybrid Kinetic Motors’ Chairman Yung (Benjamin) Yeung cited the strength of Alabama’s economy and the quality of its workforce as the main reasons for the board’s decision to locate its primary manufacturing operations in Alabama during a press conference Thursday.
Wiley Blankenship, director of the Coastal Gateway Economic Development Authority, said the opportunities that could come this way as a result of the announcement are many.
Blankenship said the idea of a community within 75 milesattracting satellite industries is not hard to imagine based on current area industry actions.
Blankenship said the leadership in Brewton and Atmore shows a desire to attract industry through their actions and preparations.
The new hybrid plant is far from a done deal. The company still has to raise $1.5 billion for the project, and state officials said no incentives will kick in until the company proves it can raise funding.
During the press conference announcing the proposed plant, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said Alabama was making other states and the world take notice.
Blankenship said the region being chosen as a site for the new facility wasn’t something that just happened. Through the cooperation of community, county and state leaders as well as work by economic development groups landing projects such as this are months — even years — in the making.
Blankenship admitted he was selfish when it comes to attracting industry to this area.