Week of December 17, 2001
  Project Watch

Express-Speed Expansion:
Honda Adds 800 Jobs, $140 Million to Alabama Plant

Honda Alabama
Honda Manufacturing of Alabama President and CEO Mikio Yoshimi (right) and Gov. Don Siegelman riding shotgun after driving the first Odyssey minivan off the line in Lincoln.
Honda's Alabama plant just got US$140 million and 800 jobs bigger - and on the same day that its first product rolled off the line.
        The surprise announcement came soon after the strains of "2001: A Space Odyssey" filled the plant in Lincoln, Ala.. Honda Manufacturing of Alabama (HMA) President and CEO Mikio Yoshimi, with Gov. Don Siegelman riding shotgun, then drove the first Odyssey minivan off the line. (Yoshimi and Siegelman didn't drive far. The first Odyssey will be displayed in HMA's visitors' center at the Lincoln plant.)
        But that was just a warm-up to Honda officials' newest expansion news: the $140 million and 800 jobs that were being added at what was originally announced in 1999 as a $450 million, 1,500-employee plant. Strong demand for the Odyssey minvans and engines that HMA manufactures drove the express-speed expansion, Honda officials explained.
        "Looking at our customers, the demand for Honda products in North America has left our dealers in short supply of models like the Odyssey, so we want to set a new challenge," Honda Motor Co. President and CEO Hiroyuki Yoshino said at the ceremonies in Lincoln.
        "Already, we are renewing the dream here in Alabama," Yoshino said of the quick-draw expansion.
        "Only with new dreams and new efforts can we continue to meet the needs of our customers."

'Thanks to You, We Made It'
With the new expansion, HMA will by late 2002 add 30,000 Odysseys and Odyssey engines to its annual capacity. That will bring total capacity to 150,000 vehicles and engines at HMA's complex some 35 miles (56 km.) east of Birmingham. The expansion will also up HMA's total capital investment to $580 million and increase its total employment to some 2,300 workers.
        The Lincoln facility is Honda's 120th global manufacturing facility. HMA, however, differs from any other Honda plant. To jumpstart efficiencies and manufacturing synchronization, Honda created the 1.7 million-sq.-ft. (153,000-sq.-m.) HMA as its first facility to assemble vehicles and engines under one roof.
        Siegelman, whose personal involvement was a major factor in landing Honda, called the first Odyssey that rolled off the line "a job well done. And Alabama's odyssey in the world of automotive manufacturing is just beginning. This is the best indication that we are really open for business. We knew that Alabama workers, the most committed workers in the world, combined with Honda's commitment to quality automobiles would equal greatness."
        "Thanks to you, we made it," Yoshimi said to an audience that included plant workers and suppliers and the project construction team.
        "I am thankful for the warm embrace we have received from this community," Yoshimi continued. "It is this relationship that has sustained us through the challenges we have faced thus far. Now, our continued growth means more people in Alabama will find employment as Honda associates. And it means opportunities for our associates here today to continue growing with the company."
        With the HMA expansion, Honda's total capital investment in North America has now topped $6 billion.

Port of Amsterdam
One major draw for Hitachi was the Port of Amsterdam (pictured above), one of Europe's 10 largest ports. More than 63 million tons of goods passed through its harbors in 2000. Other major firms with Port of Amsterdam operations include Cargill, General Electric, ExxonMobil, IBM/Danzas, Nichia Corp. and Nissan.

A Place of Our Own:
Hitachi Construction Machinery Projects Creating 250 Amsterdam Jobs

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands -- Today's merger mania has left droves of firms grappling with the complexities of sorting out redundant facilities. Hitachi Construction Machinery (HCM), however, has problems of the opposite ilk. With the dissolution of the Hitachi-Fiat joint venture that was set for June 2002, the company is moving to bulk up its own network of independent facilities.
        One of HCM's facilities will be located in Amsterdam. Hitachi Construction Machinery (Europe) has begun building a new plant in Siciliewegin in the Port of Amsterdam. The plant at full capacity will employ some 250 workers in assembling heavy earth-moving equipment for the European, African and Middle Eastern markets. In addition, a new demonstration and training center will be built on the 45-acre (18-hectare) site that Hitachi is leasing.
        "The decision was a confirmation of the great qualities of the port as a place of business," said Geert Dales, alderman for the Port of Amsterdam. "I am also confident that excellent cooperation from the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency in The Hague positively affected the outcome."
        Further expansion in the pipeline looks to be a certainty. The plant in Siciliewegin will employ 150 employees when it goes online. The company's longer term plans, however, call for expanding those operations to roughly 250 employees, Hitachi officials said. To accommodate new space needs, Hitachi Construction Machinery has secured an option for 7.5 acres (three hectares) that sit adjacent to its leased site at the Port of Amsterdam.
        Hitachi officials projected that the training center will be completed in June of 2002. The manufacturing plant will be completed in October of 2002, they estimated. Kajima Europe and Jacobs Engineering are heading project construction, Hitachi officials said.
        Hitachi Europe has been headquartered in Oosterhout, in the northern Netherlands, since 1972.

Stream Rising: 250 Call Center Jobs Coming to British Columbia

CHILLIWACK, British Columbia, Canada -- Fast-growing Stream International is at it again: The provider of outsourced call center support, dubbed "the king of Q&A" by Hoover's Online, is adding more than 250 additional call center employees in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. Boston-based Stream already has a 900-employee call center in Chilliwack.
        The Canadian expansion announcement comes as Stream's business is booming. With clients like Microsoft, the company's worldwide business volume is now growing by more than 40 percent per year, according to Stream executives.
        "This expansion illustrates both the growth Stream is experiencing and the positive experience we have had in Chilliwack," said Stream President and CEO R. Scott Murray. "The people and strong business community in Frasier Valley have been keys to our success and have enabled our expansion in Chilliwack."
        Said Chilliwack Mayor Clint Hames, "Stream International is off to a great start in Chilliwack, and we expect that it will continue to be an outstanding corporate partner for our community. We have been very impressed with Stream's commitment to the people of Chilliwack, creating a wealth of new career opportunities and training programs for our local residents."
        Boston-based Stream International has sited three operations in Canada. In addition to Chilliwack, the company has facilities in Belleville, Ontario, and in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. (For more on the latter project, see September's "Incentives Deal of the Month," "Incentives Help Nova Scotia Land Stream's 900-Employee Call Center.")

Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Target's two-story store is a prominent feature in the
redeveloped 900 block of Nicollet Mall.

Ryan Cos. Completes
$400 Million Office/Retail
Development in Downtown Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS -- The project numbers are big: 3.5 million sq. ft. (315,000 sq. m.) of space and $400 million in capital investment.
        The obstacles, too, have been sizable in Ryan Cos.' recently completed five-year development of a three-block area in the Nicollet Mall area of downtown Minneapolis.
        That area is a haven for Minnesota headquarters, including those of Retek, Ryan Cos., Target Corp., U.S. Bancorp, U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray and Xcel Energy.
        The Nicollet Mall area also occupies a substantial spot in America's media-fueled consciousness. It appeared in the opening of every episode of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," as Mary Richards joyfully tossed her hat in the air. After Ryan Cos. design-build development, though, Mary might have trouble recognizing the place.
        The five-year development has added a host of new structures, all designed by the architectural firm of Ellerbe Beckett. The three-phase downtown development included:
  • The 800 block of Nicollet Mall, now home to the 929,000-sq.-ft. (83,520-sq. m.) U.S. Bancorp Center. The first part of Ryan Cos.' development, the revamped 800 block opened in June of 2001. U.S. Bancorp Center anchors the "Minneapolis Beautiful" project, a $4 million public-private partnership that is creating public art in the three-block redevelopment area.
  • The 1000 block on Nicollet Mall, now home to Target Plaza, a 1.8 million-sq.-ft.
    (162,000-sq.-m.) two-tower complex.
  • The 900 block on Nicollet Mall, which now includes a two-story Target store, three lower levels of parking with 841 stalls, and an all-brick, 11-story office building. The all-brick facility represents Minnesota's largest masonry contract in more than 20 years, totaling more than $13 million dollars, according to Ryan Cos. officials. Spanning 822,000 sq. ft. (73,980 sq. m.) of total space, the 900 block development also includes a 2,500-sq. ft. (225-sq.-m.) senior citizen center, privately funded by Ryan Cos., Target Corp. and the nearby University of St. Thomas.

Project Triggers Lawsuit, Mayoral Election Dustup
"One of the major accomplishments of this development is bringing a Target store to downtown, rounding out our vibrant retail offerings," Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton said at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the formal opening of Target's retail space. "Thanks to the care, diligence and support of the Ryan team, Target and U.S. Bancorp, more than 12,000 employees within this three-block area will work, shop and help our city prosper along a renewed and vibrant Nicollet Mall."
        The project that consumed half a decade was "an opportunity of a lifetime to shape such an important area of Minneapolis," said Ryan Cos. CEO Jim Ryan. "It was a privilege to work with the city, Target, U.S. Bancorp and many, many others to solve the complexities of these projects with our fast-track, design-build development process, enhancing downtown for many years to come."
        The project faced a host of challenges over five years, including a lawsuit from a rival developer, the inevitable construction-cycle disruptions accompanying building within an active central business district, and the complexities of securing of numerous governmental approvals, Ryan said.
        The Target store, which is being funded in great part by the city's tax-increment financing, also became the subject of political debate. The portion of the store site's cost that the public will bear, however, remains in contention. The Minneapolis Community Development Agency estimated that cost at $60 million. City Finance Director John Moir, however, (who later resigned) put the public cost at $115 million.
        The issue spilled over into the city's mayoral election. All four challengers to incumbent Sayles-Belton attacked the mayor's support of the Target project. Challenger R.T. Rybak leveled the strongest charges, calling the support of Target corporate welfare.
        Rybak ultimately won the mayoral race, denying Sayles-Belton's bid for a third term. Sayles-Belton was the first female and first African-American to serve at the city's mayor.

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