LaGrange, Ga., June 9, 2009 — Randy Jackson, director of human resources for Kia Georgia, had many helpful tips for prospective employees of the coming local automotive industry Monday — perhaps the most important tip of all.
“(They’re) still a lot of jobs left that haven’t been filled,” he said. “Don’t look at it that these jobs have been filled and it’s over, because it’s really just beginning.”
Jackson spoke at the William J. Griggs Recreation Center in LaGrange concerning Kia’s application process and needed skills. Sponsored by the Troup County Coalition, residents brought their questions to Jackson, and he gave his answers back.
In this economy, a now heavily used phrase, layoffs and position cuts led a total 43,013 people to fill out applications at https://www.kmmgusa.com in a 30-day period January 2008.
Kia hired 90 employees Monday, Jackson announced.
“We’re about ready to pull … 80 or 90 coming about every two weeks for a couple of months,” he said. “That 90 today puts us a little short of 700.”
Kia officials are still planning on hiring 2,500 people for 2,500 jobs, Jackson said, and Kia suppliers will add another 7,500 jobs.
“That’s a true statement as well,” he said, but every company needs time, something many now unemployed residents are running out of.
“There’s a lot of positive coming to this area,” Jackson continued. “You have to wait till it gets here. It doesn’t happen overnight.”
In total, Jackson estimated more than 30,000 jobs coming to the area through economic development — construction jobs, hotel workers, restaurants and other developments alongside the 10,000 jobs being created through Kia and its suppliers.
“We’re two, plus, years away from some of those announcements, and we haven’t added all those jobs yet,” he said. “If you look at the supplier base, they’re just now beginning to hire. So those 7,500 that are coming are right on the beginning stage today.”
And they want local people — local people ready for hard work, who are self-disciplined toward being on time and learning a new trade, are teamplayers, can sustain the physicality of the job, and have a high school diploma or the equivalent, Jackson said.
Arthur Williams and Paul Grimes, managers of team relations for Kia Georgia, echoed those statements, also adding the work is very repetitive, and future employees need to keep that in mind.
A common thread between the production and maintenance employees that have been hired so far dealt with living in this region. Many of them come from Troup and Chambers counties as well as neighboring counties like Muscogee and Harris in Georgia and Lee in Alabama.
“That’s our region. That’s our backyard,” Jackson said. “You hear that constantly, and that’s good. That’s what we wanted to do.”
Those maintenance and production employees will be trained, taught and coached by experienced automotive manufacturers, salaried workers, from other carmakers. Grimes and Williams have more than 40 years collective experience in car manufacturing.
“But that’s a small percentage (of the workers),” Jackson said.
The director then fielded questions primarily on future non-profit organizations being funded through Kia, which are planned for when the plant is in production.
Jackson also said the carmaker is interested in future agreements with local colleges like Auburn University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, allowing co-op students to work at Kia. Those students could gain classroom hours and experience at the new plant, perhaps leading to entry level management jobs.
“We want it to be a two-way street. We want people to want us as much as we want them,” Jackson said. “It’s just beginning. … There’s hope for whatever you want to do.”
Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG) is the first manufacturing site in North America for Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, Korea. KMMG is located on 2,200 acres in West Point, Georgia, and is scheduled to begin production in the last quarter of 2009. At full capacity, the plant will have the ability to produce 300,000 vehicles annually and employ approximately 2,500 team members.