Editor’s note: This is a sponsored article to announce that the Meriwether Industrial Development Authority is now the exclusive sponsor of Global Atlanta’s Korean coverage.
It’s no secret that Korean investment has been a boon for Georgia, especially in the automotive sector in the decade after the announcement of Kia Motors’ West Point factory.
But looking at small communities may be the best way to see the full impact of big, sweeping numbers, like the 33,000 jobs cited by Consul General Young-jun Kim at a recent Asia summit.
Meriwether County, which has access to Interstate 85 and sits 22 miles from the Kia plant, is one of the primary beneficiaries of this flurry of investment.
Three out of the top four employers in the county of 22,000 people, in fact, hail from Korea and form an integral part of the Kia supply chain.
With 300 employees, Dongwon Autopart Technology trails only a Georgia-Pacific plywood plant in providing jobs for the county. Dongwon makes structural panels for vehicles.
Beyond that, Korea’s Mando Corp., which supplies both Hyundai and Kia, has two separate subsidiary plants. Mando America employs about 420 people making brake/steering components, while Mando Casting Facility has 195 workers, for a total of 615. The company will become the largest manufacturer in the county with more than 1,000 employees when it reaches full capacity.
That has come on more than $300 million in capital investment, all concentrated in Meriwether Park, an industrial park that sits just 0.2 miles of the interstate highway and only 40 miles from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The location is particular importance to Korean executives, who can fly back and forth to Seoul on two separate nonstop flights offered by Delta Air Lines Inc. and its Skyteam partner, Korean Air, says Jane Fryer, a veteran economic developer who has headed up the county’s industrial recruitment since 2011.
As executive director of the Meriwether County Industrial Development Authority, Ms. Fryer has overseen the influx and sees even more potential, given the county’s proximity to an automotive corridor running from east Alabama into Georgia, where Korean investment is booming.
Ms. Fryer even spent 2016-17 heading up the Southeast U.S. Korea Chamber of Commerce.
Now, under her leadership, Meriwether County’s IDA has become the exclusive sponsor of Global Atlanta’s Korea coverage, which highlights the Georgia commercial and cultural relationship with the country — everything from auto investment to nuclear talks to K-Pop competitions.
Of course, Meriwether County has much more than Korean investment. In Warm Springs, presidential history is always near at hand with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Little White House,” and the county is home to a covered bridge built by self-taught engineer and freed slave Horace King. Visitors can hike Pine Mountain or fish in the Flint River, which runs through the county.
Ms. Fryer may be reached by email at J.Fryer@meriwethercountyga.gov or by calling 706-672-3467.
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