Saturday, April 20, 2002

Bid for Hyundai plant cost Kentucky at least $130,000

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — The quest to land Hyundai Motor Co.'s new assembly plant cost Kentucky at least $130,000, but a spokesman for Gov. Paul Patton says it was money well spent.

        “We feel that whatever the minuscule cost was, it was well worth it,” said Rusty Cheuvront, Mr. Patton's press secretary. “Coming in second in a field that started with 51 sites in nine states just enhanced our reputation as a great place to do business.”

        Hyundai considered a site near Glendale in Hardin County before settling on Al abama this month. (In Ohio, Wapakoneta and Mount Orab, in Brown County, were considered.)

        State records released under Kentucky's open-records law show that since last May, Kentucky representatives made three trips to South Korea, Hyundai's corporate headquarters, and four trips to California, where Hyundai maintains its main U.S. offices. They also made related trips to Washington, D.C.; Florida; Atlanta and several Kentucky cities to meet business clients.

        Much of the out-of-state travel was done by Gene Strong, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Eco nomic Development, and Jim Navolio, Kentucky's commissioner of business development.

        The $1 billion plant is expected to employ about 2,000 people after it begins operating in 2005.

        Kentucky essentially entered the chase for the plant last May, when a Kentucky delegation including Messrs. Patton, Strong and Navolio met Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-koo in South Korea in a social call that cost at least $8,800, according to travel vouchers.

        The next month, Hyundai formally requested a bid from Kentucky to compete for the plant.


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