Hitachi expanding Georgia plant

ATLANTA (MCT) -- Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, an automotive parts manufacturer, is expanding its operations in Walton County and creating 250 new jobs, Gov. Nathan Deal announced Tuesday.

An expected $80 million expansion of Hitachi's plant in Monroe, about 55 miles northeast of Atlanta, will lead to a near doubling of the current workforce, the governor said. The plant has nearly 300 full-time and 75 part-time workers.

The plant produces valve timing mechanisms, propeller shafts and power steering systems for automakers. The current 230,000-square-foot facility is expected to grow by 290,000 square feet when adjacent space is added.

Deal visited officials of the plant's parent company, Hitachi America Ltd., in Japan last year.

It's the latest of several major job creation announcements Deal has made in recent months as companies take advantage of job tax credits, tax exemptions and training assistance Georgia offers to lure new business to the state.

Earlier this month, Deal announced Engineered Floors will open two new carpet plants in northwest Georgia -- one in Whitfield County and the other in Murray County -- that will employ a total of 2,400 people.

In April, Baxter International, a maker of vaccines and medical devices, said it would build a plant east of Atlanta near Social Circle that will create more than 1,500 full-time positions.

In February, Caterpillar announced it will build a construction equipment plant near the Athens-Clarke and Oconee county line that will ultimately employ about 1,400 people.

Hitachi began operations in Monroe in 1996 in a facility that was formerly Unisia of Georgia, another automotive parts company.

"We've been able to bring additional business to Georgia because of a strong workforce, and based on our past history, a strong relationship with Walton County and the local community," said Michael Schoon, director of finance for Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas.