Tuesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) announced that the Shinhwa Group is opening manufacturing operation in Auburn.
“Shinhwa’s decision to invest $42 million and create 95 jobs in Auburn is great news for Alabama,” Governor Ivey said. “Alabama has become an important player in a changing automotive industry, and Shinhwa’s plans to open its first U.S. plant in Auburn is proof of our success.”
Alabama is home to an expanding automotive cluster that produces around 1 million vehicles a year and provides an estimated 40,000 direct jobs at companies within the sector.
“The Shinhwa Group has become a leader in the aluminum die casting industry because of our willingness to overcome technical challenges,” said Kwi-Hyun Lee, CEO of the Shinhwa Group in South Korea. “We are proud to call Auburn our new home and to serve our customers in the U.S.A.”
Initially, Shinhwa will produce drive shafts for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama in Montgomery and Kia Motor Manufacturing Georgia, just across the state line in West Point. Shinhwa plans to expand its production in Auburn in the future to provide parts for other car manufacturers.
“We will start our U.S. project by introducing a highly automated machining process to be followed in the near future with our die casting lines,” said U.S. Auto Corp. President Duk Keun Oh. “We are grateful for our collaboration with Seohan in Auburn and see great opportunities for our growth in North America.”
Shinhwa was founded in Changwon, South Korea, in 1995. U.S. Auto Corp is their newly founded American subsidiary.
“In the past few months, Auburn has had two major automotive supplier announcements,” economic developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter. “Shinhwa is a leader in the research and development of cutting-edge technologies that serve the automotive industry. The company started in Korea in 1995 and has begun construction on its newest facility in Auburn Technology Park West, set to open in 2020. Shinhwa’s decision to choose the state of Alabama to establish a presence in the US is an important component of the automotive supply chain and a testament to the creation of an environment conducive for business.”
State Senator Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) said on social media, “Pretty #AUsome ! The policies of growth that we put in place starting nine years ago are still reaping news jobs! New automobile parts maker to open $42M plant in #Auburn.”
State Representative Joe Lovvorn (R-Auburn) said simply, “More jobs in Auburn, Alabama.”
“Shinhwa is a welcome addition to Alabama’s network of high-caliber auto suppliers,” Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said. “I’m confident that Shinhwa will realize major benefits from the technical talents of Alabama’s workforce and the state’s business-friendly environment. Working together, I know we can build a solid future.”
The company has begun construction of its new facility in the Auburn Technology Park West, and Phase 1 of the project is expected to be completed in summer 2020.
“Companies like Shinhwa are assets to our community, ensuring that our larger region benefits from the high-tech manufacturing happening here in Auburn,” said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders. “We are grateful for the confidence that the company’s leadership has in Auburn and look forward to the significant economic impact this project will have for our city.”
New unemployment claims continued dropping last week
There were 8,679 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, slightly fewer than the 8,848 filed the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.
Of the claims filed between Sept. 13 and Sept. 19, 4,465, or 51 percent, were related to COVID-19. That’s the same percentage as the previous week.
Unemployment benefits could change for some Alabamians
ADOL will begin the review when the current quarter ends on Oct. 3.
Some Alabamians receiving unemployment benefits could see changes in those benefits after the Alabama Department of Labor conducts a required quarterly review and redetermines eligibility, the department said Friday.
The Alabama Department of Labor said in a press release Friday that no action is required by those receiving regular unemployment, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
ADOL will begin the review when the current quarter ends on Oct. 3.
“Some may remain eligible for PUA or PEUC, OR they may be required to change to regular unemployment compensation. Weekly benefit amounts may also change. This depends on eligibility requirements,” ADOL said in the release. “Those claimants whose benefit year ends prior to October 3, 2020, will have their claims reevaluated.”
After the review, if the claimant is determined not to be eligible for regular unemployment compensation, those who qualify may still be able to be paid under PUA or PEUC, and that determination will be made automatically and payment will be issued, the department said in the release.
Claimants must also continue to certify their weeks.
Many claimants are not receiving benefits because they fail to file their weekly certifications, i.e. requests for payment. ADOL cannot pay benefits for weeks that have not been properly certified. Certifications can be done online at labor.alabama.gov or by calling the appropriate number:
- Montgomery – (334) 954-4094
- Birmingham – (205) 458-2282
- Not in Local Area – (800) 752-7389
PUA recipients must file their weekly certifications either by telephone or on the PUA app, at pua.labor.alabama.gov.
Alabama Gulf Coast beaches remain closed for now
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced that beaches will remain closed for now due to ongoing repair and cleanup efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sally.
“Working closely with Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft and Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon, as well as Commissioner Billy Joe Underwood, the governor has agreed to keep Baldwin County’s beaches closed until Friday, October 2nd,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “This will allow those communities additional time to get their beaches ready for public enjoyment in a safe, responsible manner.”
Mobile County beaches might open earlier than that.
“Likewise, the governor has been in touch with Mayor Jeff Collier, and she is prepared to amend the beach closure order for Mobile County when he signals that Dauphin Island is ready to reopen their beaches,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “At the present time, all Alabama beaches remain closed until further notice.”
Hurricane Sally came ashore near Gulf Shores on Sept. 16 as a category two hurricane with 105 mile per hour winds. Numerous homes, businesses and farms have been destroyed and many more have seen serious damage.
“As of Wednesday night, approx. 37,000 cubic yards of Hurricane Sally debris (equivalent to roughly 1,700 truck loads worth) has been picked up in Orange Beach since Sunday (4 days),” the city of Orange Beach announced. “Kudos to our debris contractor CrowderGulf.”
“I spent Sunday afternoon meeting with senior staff and I believe we will need some time to get our buildings safe for children to return,” said Baldwin County Schools Superintendent Eddie Taylor in a letter to parents. “We live in a very large county. Power may be on in your area and your school may not have any damage, but we cannot open schools unless all schools can open. Our pacing guides, state testing, meal and accountability requirements are based on the system, not individual schools.”
“We have schools without power and for which we do not expect power until later this week,” Taylor said. “In this new age, we need internet and communications which are currently down so we cannot run any system tests. We have physical damage at our schools including some with standing water, collapsed ceilings and blown out windows. We have debris on our properties and debris blocking our transportation teams from picking up students. All of this must be resolved before we can successfully re-open.”
“If everything goes as planned, I expect we will welcome back students on Wednesday, September 30,” Taylor said. “Prior to returning students to school, we will hold two teacher work days to get our classrooms and our lessons plans back on track.”
SNAP replacement benefits coming to three counties hit by Hurricane Sally
Thousands of SNAP recipients in Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia counties are set to receive automatic replacement benefits as a result of Hurricane Sally, the Alabama Department of Human Resources announced Thursday.
Recipients who received their benefits Sept. 1 through Sept. 16 will receive a replacement of 50 percent of their regular monthly benefit. Those who received supplemental pandemic maximum allotment payments will receive a replacement of 30 percent of those benefits.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service approved the replacement benefits today at the request of DHR. The benefits are intended to replace food purchased with SNAP that was lost to widespread power outages caused when Hurricane Sally made landfall on Sept. 16.
“Our priority is to remove the very real threat of hunger for the many Alabamians who are struggling from the devastation of Hurricane Sally,” said Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner. “The first step toward that goal is to replace the food that so many Alabamians lost to the storm. We are actively working to obtain additional resources to provide much-needed relief for the region as it recovers.”
Hurricane Sally caused over 265,000 households to lose power for at least four hours in Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia counties, where approximately 54,000 households will receive SNAP benefits totaling an estimated $8.5 million.
Those recipients should expect to see the replacement benefits automatically loaded onto their EBT cards next week.
The Food Assistance Division of DHR administers the SNAP program in Alabama.
More information about the program can be found at dhr.alabama.gov/food-assistance.