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County going after Hyundai

If Hyundai Motors chooses to expand, it wants its new plant located in the United States.

Friday, November 30, 2001

If Hyundai Motors chooses to expand, it wants its new plant located in the United States.

If Hyundai picks Ohio out of several southern states, then a Brown County industrial area, Wapakoneta and other undisclosed sites are in the running.

If Gov. Bob Taft adds Lawrence County to that list, and if Hyundai likes what it sees here, then 2,000 new jobs could come to the Tri-State.

That’s a lot of ifs, but it’s still possible, county commissioner Jason Stephens said.

"Look at Duke and how many states were in the running for them," Stephens said. "We proved we can bring in the large companies We have to be proactive to get the business in."

On Thursday, urged by local economic development leaders, county commissioners asked Taft to include Lawrence County in talks with the South Korean carmaker, which plans to build a $1 billion car assembly plant.

The county sent a letter detailing its past success with industries like Liebert, Duke and Calpine and touting The Point – the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation’s 504-acre industrial park.

"It has river and rail, good highway access I want to ask if you’d be willing to write a letter and urge (Taft) to consider our park," LEDC executive director Pat Clonch told commissioners.

The county would like the opportunity to entertain Hyundai executives when they eventually come to Ohio, Mrs. Clonch and the commissioners said.

Commissioners added that, although the idea’s still in the preliminary stages, it poses an exciting opportunity.

There’s not a criteria that Lawrence County lacks for what such a company would need, they said.

Mrs. Clonch hinted that The Point is bigger and better than sites such as Mount Orab in Brown County and Wapakoneta in northwest Ohio – so far, the only two areas identified by state leaders for possible development.

"For that many jobs, we can do a lot of good things," she said, meaning incentives.

The county’s industrial park is part of the powerful federal Empowerment Zone and an enterprise zone, which is able to offer hiring, tax and equipment purchasing incentives.

Stephens said he believes the county has a chance at luring Hyundai, adding county leaders have already made phone calls to the governor’s office.

"We can’t just sit by with a 504-acre (industrial) park, even though everybody in the world wants a plant like that," he said.

Meanwhile, while the governor won’t specifically identify the industry visited – at the request of the industry itself – he returned to Columbus on Wednesday from what was called an "unannounced overseas trade mission."

The Associated Press reported that the trip came at the invitation of the Hyundai Motor Co. And Taft was one of several politicians invited to visit and see what Hyundai is all about. The company stated no negotiations would take place during the visits.

Any decisions on key details, including a future plant’s location, will not be made until next year, the company said.