Nema Etheridge for GlobalAtlanta
Ten Quebec companies working in the transportation equipment industry scouted out LaGrange as a possible investment destination Nov. 27, during a five-day tour of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

A 16-person delegation representing transportation equipment manufacturers, subcontractors and service providers from the Canadian province of Quebec visited LaGrange last week to learn more about west Georgia’s growing automotive industry.

They heard presentations from Mike Criddle the project coordinator for Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group’s manufacturing facility development near LaGrange, in addition to Ray Coulombe, economic development director for the city of LaGrange and Jim Blair, senior manager of business development in the Global Commerce Department of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Kia announced in March that it would build a $1.2 billion manufacturing facility less than 20 miles southwest of LaGrange in West Point. The 2,282-acre site, on which the facility is to be built, will be ready for construction by this December. However, a Kia manufacturing facility will not begin production before the fall of 2009, Mr. Criddle said.

The growth potential for LaGrange and greater Troup County as a result of the Kia investment, as well as the city’s proximity to other automobile industry manufacturers makes the area an attractive investment destination for Quebec automotive industry companies, Gilles Gravel, leader of the delegation, told GlobalAtlanta.

“What’s interesting about the South to us is that it’s growing so quickly, and it’s the hub of the automotive manufacturing industry,” Mr. Gravel said during a reception held for the delegation at the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Gravel is president and general manager of the Quebec-based Specialty Vehicles and Transportation Equipment Manufacturers’ Association, which organized the trip.

He said that companies represented on the trip, such as Robert Hydraulique Inc. a manufacturer of hydraulic ladders from Le Gardeur, Quebec, and Rocand Industries Inc. of Quebec City, which specializes in factory design and consulting, would be ideal businesses to locate in fast growing markets like the Southeast.

As a region expands its manufacturing capabilities, an increasing amount of parts manufacturers and service providers, such as engineering and design companies, are needed, he said.

After meeting with officials in LaGrange, the Quebec group traveled to Anderson, S.C., to participate in a two-day trade show aimed at forging closer ties between South Carolina-area organizations and Canadian automotive-related businesses.

The Zoom Zone CANAM Edition trade show that was held Nov. 29-30 in Anderson brought together representatives from some 30 Quebec-based companies and South Carolina entities, such as Clemson University, the South Carolina Power Team and the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Quebec group’s visit to Georgia comes after the specialty vehicles association organized a summer conference in Quebec at which Mr. Blair represented the state.

For more information, contact Mr. Blair at (404) 962-4032 or

For more information on LaGrange, contact Mr. Coulombe at (706) 883-2050 or Jane Fryer, president of the LaGrange-Troup County chamber, at (706) 884-8671.

For more information on the visiting Quebec companies, contact Louise Fortin of the Quebec Trade Office in Atlanta at (404) 815-4979.