Auto parts maker Yorozu marked the grand opening of its $110 million manufacturing plant in Walker County, where hiring has been ramping up and will continue to grow.
A grand opening ceremony at the Yorozu facility included a ribbon cutting, a tree planting and tours of the plant, followed by a luncheon that included a sake toast.
The Tier 1 automotive supplier produces metal stamped suspension components for automakers including Honda, Toyota and Nissan. It selected the site in Jasper after an extensive site search in 2015.
Toshiyuki Yago, president of Yorozu Automotive Alabama, said the company started 2017 with 37 workers and had grown to 170 employees by the end of the year, according to a report by the Alabama NewsCenter. “The opening of the Yorozu facility marks an important moment in the history of this city.”
The number is expected to rise to 300 by 2020, when full production is achieved.
Yago said the location just off Interstate 22 in Walker County is ideal for his company because it is surrounded by automakers including Honda and Mercedes-Benz in Alabama, as well as Toyota and Nissan in neighboring states. “It’s almost the center of each location for the customer,” he said.
Yorozu’s arrival in Jasper represents a significant economic boost for a community whose fortunes have long been tied to coal mining. Efforts to diversify the area economy have been paying off, and the city has been developing a strong manufacturing sector, which besides Yorozu now includes two other large auto suppliers.
“The jobs that Yorozu is creating in Jasper will provide a long-lasting lift to this community and to many families living here,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “The opening of the Yorozu facility marks an important moment in the history of this city, and that makes this a great day.”
Jasper Mayor David O’Mary said Yorozu has already brought considerable benefits to the Walker County city, according to a report in the Daily Mountain Eagle.
“This is a company that is a fine employer, but also a fine member of our community,” O’Mary said during the ceremony the Yorozu plant. “The jobs they have brought to our community is one thing, but the work they’ve done to become a part of our community shows the interest they have in seeing Jasper be successful.”
O’Mary said Jasper has prepared a 50-acre site that could become home to a supplier for Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA, the joint venture behind a $1.6 billion auto assembly plant to be built in Huntsville.