Governor Kay Ivey today announced that Samkee Corp., a major South Korean automotive supplier, plans to invest $128 million to open its first U.S. factory in Alabama through a project that will create 170 jobs in Tuskegee, providing an economic boost for Macon County.
After finalizing agreements with state and local authorities, Samkee Corp. is poised to begin construction on the new manufacturing facility in the Tuskegee Commerce Park, where it will become the city’s first auto parts manufacturer.
Samkee will serve as a Tier 1 supplier to Hyundai Motor Co. The new jobs will pay an average wage of just over $20 an hour, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“Alabama’s auto industry is filled with world-class manufacturing companies from around the world, and Samkee will fit right in with that group,” said Governor Ivey. “We’re proud that the company selected Alabama for its first U.S. production center and look forward to seeing it grow and thrive in the coming years.”
Founded in 1978, Samkee specializes in high-pressure die-cast aluminum components, including parts for engines, transmissions, and electric vehicles, along with alloys. The company currently operates factories in South Korea and China.
Parts production at the advanced casting facility in Macon County is expected to begin in 2024.
“Samkee is a worldwide leader in quality manufactured aluminum die-cast products,” said CEO Chi Hwan Kim. “Our Tuskegee plant will allow our company to serve the North American market along with Hyundai’s market growth for both combustion engines and transmissions, as well as electric vehicle and battery parts.”
“I give many thanks to Governor Ivey, Secretary Canfield and local officials, and Hyundai Motor for their steadfast support to Samkee in our decision today,” he added.
Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said Samkee’s decision to locate its first North American factory in Macon County reflects its confidence in the region’s workforce. Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT), the state’s primary workforce development agency, will help Samkee assemble and train its workforce.
“The skilled workers in Alabama’s auto sector have proved they are ready for any challenge the industry can throw at them, and they consistently turn out complex products of the highest quality,” said Secretary Canfield. “Samkee has come to the right place for its new U.S. industrial home.”
Joe Turnham, director of the Macon County Economic Development Authority, said local support for the project includes site work in Tuskegee Commerce Park, upgrades to the water and sewer system, and the installation of a new power substation.
“Samkee appreciated the local assets, the spirit of cooperation and friendship developed over time with Macon County. We have strived with our stakeholders in a team effort to meet Samkee’s needs,” said Turnham. “We will remain partners going forward to see that they have a successful construction and manufacturing launch and future growth in the North American market. This is obviously a big win for our community and its citizens.”
Turnham said the recruitment project that is bringing Samkee to Tuskegee lasted well over a year.
“Today’s announcement is another major step in Tuskegee’s progression as a city,” said Tuskegee Mayor Tony Haygood. “Samkee will be a great community partner for years to come and an example of how Tuskegee is open for business in the 21st Century marketplace. We appreciate Samkee’s partnership with us and will strive to succeed and grow together.”
The Utilities Board of Tuskegee played a major role in the recruitment, and General Manager Gerald Long said he looks forward to deepening the partnership with Samkee.
“Our utility will serve power, water, and sewer to the industry. Their presence in our community will allow us to expand our system and resources to better serve them and all of our customers at an even higher level of reliable service,” said Long. “We are proud to be a full partner in economic development countywide.”
Samkee’s manufacturing plant is expected to have a significant economic impact on Macon County, according to an analysis by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the University of Alabama.
The analysis projects that the Samkee factory will generate $140.2 million in annual economic output in Macon County, contributing over $37 million to the county’s GDP while also generating $1.3 million per year in taxes.
Brenda Tuck, Rural Development Manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce, said Samkee’s investment project signals that the state’s rural counties remain a magnet for foreign direct investment, particularly within the auto industry.
Since 2015, foreign companies have invested over $2 billion in growth projects in Alabama’s rural counties, with auto-related projects accounting for a large share of the total, according to data from the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“Alabama’s rural communities offer manufacturers like Samkee all the essentials they need to find long-term success with their ventures,” said Tuck. “Corporate decision-makers around the world are increasingly gravitating towards the advantages found in these communities.”