Honda Plans New Georgia Plant, Expansion of Alabama, Ohio Plants

Atlanta -- Honda Motor Co., the Japanese automaker, has plans to build an auto transmission plant in Tallapoosa, Ga., and expand existing plants in Alabama and Ohio as part of a $270 million investment plan that will create 600 jobs in the three states.

The plan announced is part of Honda's new strategy to increase the production of advanced automatic transmissions to expand their production of light trucks that includes sport-utility vehicles, said Koichi Kondo, president of Honda's American operations.

The $100 million Georgia plant is expected to begin operation in late 2006 and produce some 300,000 automatic transmissions annually, mainly for sport utility vehicles assembled at Honda's Ohio plant. Honda said the plant will create 400 jobs. Tallapoosa is a city of about 3,000 located 40 miles west of Atlanta.

Surrounding Haralson County once was known as a primary textile manufacturing center in the region. But over the past two decades, much of that business has declined and 5,000 textile workers in the county lost their jobs. Now more than half of the area's work force commutes outside the county.

News of the new plant -- and its hundreds of jobs -- brought smiles in Haralson County.

"It's really a good, early Christmas present," said Philip Eidson, Tallapoosa city manager.

The plant will initially support production of Odyssey minivans and Pilot SUVs in Lincoln, Ala., 60 miles west of the Tallapoosa plant.

In Lincoln, Honda plans to invest $70 million to expand its engine production plant and add 100 jobs. The expansion would double the size of the existing 160,000-square-foot facility. Honda previously planned to expand the work force to 4,300 next year. The latest plans increase that number to 4,400.

At its plant in Russells Point, Ohio, about 60 miles northwest of Columbus, Honda will invest $100 million and add 100 new jobs to produce high-precision gears that previously were made only in Japan. The plant currently employs 800 workers.

Kondo and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue made the announcement in Atlanta.

"The close proximity of these operations will increase the efficiency of our North American capabilities," Kondo said.

Haralson County economic developer Joan Young said the entire region will benefit.

"These are going to be highly skilled jobs and it will be an opportunity for our community and this region to find some excellent jobs right here at home."