Korean auto suppliers add over 1,000 jobs in East Tennessee and Northwest Georgia

Korean auto suppliers add over 1,000 jobs in East Tennessee and Northwest Georgia

July 26th, 2014 by Associated Press and Staff Report in Business Around the Region

Gov. Bill Haslam, left, shakes hands with SL America President Y.K. Woo after the announcement of a $80.5 million expansion and the creation of 1,000 jobs at the SL Tennessee plant Friday in Clinton, Tenn. The South Korea-based auto parts manufacturer will construct a 250,000-square-foot building to make head lamps and tail lamps.

Photo by The Knoxville News Sentinel /Times Free Press.

A pair of South Korean auto suppliers are making big bets with new investments creating more than 1,000 jobs.

Parts manufacturer SL Tennessee LLC will invest $80.5 million and create 1,000 jobs in Anderson County, Tenn., Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday.

Last week, LG Hausys broke ground on a new production plant in Gordon County, where it is investing $40 million with plans to hire 50 people.

Also last week, Volkswagen unveiled plans to create 2,000 more jobs at its Chattanooga assembly plant to start assembly of a new sport utility vehicle by late 2016.

SL Tennessee, which was the first auto supplier signed by VW's Chattanooga plant last decade, will begin construction of its new facility in August with a goal of being fully operational by April 2015, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

The company, which now employs 750 workers in Clinton, Tenn., will construct a new 250,000-square-foot building to join its two existing facilities in the Clinton/I-75 Industrial Park.

"Once again, SL Tennessee is proud to announce that Clinton has been chosen as the newest site for expansion to help fulfill the global vision of SL Corporation," SL America President Y.K. Woo said.

The new facility will manufacture and produce head lamps and tail lamps for the auto market. With the addition of the building, the company will also consolidate its data infrastructure for North America to the Clinton location.

"In just the past two years, the automotive parts manufacturing sector has announced the creation of nearly 1,300 jobs and the capital investment of $200 million in Anderson County," said its mayor, Terry Frank.

The company already has made $50 million in expansions and added 400 workers since 2010, said Anderson County industrial recruiter Tim Thompson.

While SL Tennessee supplies gear shifters, parking brakes and lighting products primarily to General Motors, the company also supplies parts to Hyundai.

SL Tennessee already has had five expansions since it became the first South Korean auto parts manufacturer to locate in Tennessee in 2001. It now has some 500,000 square feet under roof in the Clinton/I-75 Industrial Park.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the company's investment is "another example of Tennesseans benefiting from the auto jobs multiplier effect."

LG Hausys' new plant in Gordon County is slated to produce auto skins, which are internal surface materials used for car seats, door panels, dashboards and other components, a news release said. The products will be distributed throughout the country to auto manufacturers including Hyundai, Kia, General Motors and Chrysler.

The property is adjacent to the company's acrylic solid surface plant. Targeted for a December 2015 completion, the plant is LG Hausys' debut in the North American auto market.

Kathy Johnson, president of both the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce and the county's development authority, said in a statement that the groundbreaking culminated "a challenging and intense location campaign that was well-fought and well-won."

Company President Jangsoo Oh said that since the establishment of LG Hausys America Inc., the production of engineered quartz and acrylic solid surfaces has grown steadily.

"Now, with the addition of a new auto skin production plant, delivering products and services of an even higher quality and ultimately leading the North American market will be among our top priorities," he said.

Larry Roye, chairman of the county development authority, said that with the new investment in the auto skin plant, LG Hausys will have committed over $120 million in its local facilities.

LG Hausys occupies third place in the global auto skin industry, officials said.