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Autocar selects site in Birmingham, Centerpoint for Truck Assembly Plant

Birmigham, Alabama, USA skyline at Railroad Park.

By Brandon Moseley 
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced that Autocar will invest $120 million to expand and open a manufacturing plant in Jefferson County.

The company will build heavy-duty cab-over-engine trucks in an existing one million-square-foot complex located in both Center Point, Alabama, and Birmingham. The development is expected to create 746 jobs.

Ivey said “Alabama is a powerhouse in automotive manufacturing, and Autocar’s new heavy-duty truck assembly operation in Birmingham will add a new dimension to the state’s activities in this vital sector. The company is making a significant investment in its Alabama operation and creating the kind of well-paying jobs that are a priority of my administration as we declare that Alabama is open for business.”

Autocar Chairman Andrew Taitz said, “Autocar carefully considered locations across the country and selected Birmingham for many reasons. Among them are access to a great business environment, strong state and local governmental partners, a skilled workforce, and proximity to our customers and suppliers.”

Autocar President Jim Johnston said, “We’re excited that Autocar brings a dynamic and growing new employment opportunity to your community, offering new manufacturing jobs and training.”

Johnston said, “With this new million-square-foot plant in Birmingham and our new local employees, we’ll better meet the needs of our existing customers and be able to engineer new specialized products for different applications and markets.”

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Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington said, “After months of negotiations under the project name Sunrise, it is my distinct honor, on behalf of the entire commission, to formally welcome Autocar to Jefferson County.  These new, high-paying manufacturing jobs are a direct result of the tireless, cooperative efforts of the company, the state, the county and the cities of Center Point and Birmingham. We are confident that Autocar’s suppliers will find a welcoming environment here as well.”

Carrington had been a GOP candidate for governor, but he announced on Wednesday that he would not be pursuing the office.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell said the impact of Autocar will be felt positively throughout the Birmingham area as the region’s automotive sector strengthens. The property sits within the city limits of both Birmingham and Center Point.

Mayor Bell said, “This is a great day for Birmingham as we welcome another major vehicle manufacturer to Alabama. The automotive industry is strong in the Birmingham region and we look forward to working with Autocar on its future growth and with its suppliers looking to locate here. Our strong workforce and unmatched quality of life have helped us attract yet another world-class company.”

William Bell is seeking another term as mayor but faces a stiff challenger from Anthony Woodfin in the mayoral runoff on Oct. 6.

“Autocar’s decision to locate a plant here is an important win for the Center Point community,” Henderson said. “Not only does this fill a previously empty building and provide jobs for our citizens, it also will have an impact that will be felt for a long time in Center Point and in the surrounding area. The city’s infrastructure, education system and much more will reap the benefits of Autocar’s decision to produce its trucks here. We welcome and thank Autocar for their tremendous investment.”

The company will occupy the former Meadowcraft building on Pinson Valley Parkway, which has been empty since 2009.

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Dr. Ray Watts, President of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and 2017 BBA Chairman, said, “Autocar’s decision helps validate what we’ve known all along, that the Birmingham region provides a superior labor force, an unmatched quality of life, and a significantly lower cost of doing business, not just for manufacturing but for all types of businesses. We are proud to welcome Autocar to the growing family of premier corporate citizens in our area.”

Gardensville, Alabama, Mayor Othell Phillips said in a statement, “Today was a huge day for Jefferson County and the entire metro area. Commisioner Carrington and our staff, along with Commissioner Knight and his staff, the other Jefferson County Commissioners, the BBA, the State of Alabama Commerce Department, Mayor Henderson and the City of Center Point plus Mayor Bell and the City of Birmingham started negotiations to land Autocar. Well today it became reality….. Autocar will produce 746 new jobs with an average salary of $58k (excluding benefits) per year plus invest $120 million in the project. Autocar produces heavy duty industrial trucks. It will be located in the former Meadowcraft building located at the intersection of Highway 79 and Carson Road. This project is one of the largest projects in a number of years for the Jefferson County metro area… suppliers will follow! BOOM!”

Autocar was founded in 1897 and is the oldest motor vehicle brand in the United States. It built America’s first truck in 1899 and pioneered many technical innovations now common in all cars and trucks. Autocar is the leading American manufacturer dedicated to severe-duty cab-over trucks. Autocar has strong and growing positions in the markets for the biggest, baddest trucks on the road, such as Class 8 concrete pump trucks, refuse and recycling trucks, terminal tractors and other severe-duty vocational applications.

Autocar, once fully operational, will generate $645 million annually in economic impact, which includes a nearly $229 million annual contribution to Alabama’s GDP and $130 million in earnings to Alabama households from 2,655 direct and indirect jobs, according to an impact study from the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce.

Autocar is an American-owned company, headquartered in Hagerstown, Indiana, and is affiliated with GVW Group, based in Highland Park, Illinois.

Autocar’s plant in Birmingham marks the state’s fourth major automotive OEM assembly plant and one that will bring a new dimension to Alabama’s strong automotive sector, which is already home to Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and numerous suppliers.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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