Hanwha’s current facility sits in the Northeast Opelika Industrial Park and currently manufacturers automotive parts for the Hyundai assembly plant in Montgomery and the Kia plant in West Point, Ga.
The Opelika City Council unanimously approved a project agreement with Hanwha Cimarron LLC on Aug. 3 that will lead to the construction of a new $130 million manufacturing facility in the Northeast Opelika Industrial Park in Alabama. The new plant also will create a projected 261 jobs.
The South Korean-based company produces carbon fiber-wrapped, high pressure hydrogen storage tanks.
"At Hanwha Cimarron we're excited about what the future holds for us," David Jeon, the CEO of Hanwha Cimarron, said in a statement. "Today we celebrate the announcement of a manufacturing facility to be located here in Opelika. This new facility will help continue our company's growth in the Carbon Overwrap Pressure Vessel industry, catering to the needs of aerospace, drone, defense, marine, rail, on-vehicle, gas transport and ground storage solutions.
"We're excited about bringing over 200 good-paying jobs to the local area, and about being a part of the greater Opelika community," he continued. "We look forward to forming strong local partnerships that will benefit the community, the company and our employees."
The Opelika-Auburn News reported that as part of the project agreement, the city will provide financial enticements to Hanwha for the creation of the facility, including cash and performance incentives, tax abatements and a waiver of any municipal site plan review fees and building and construction permit fees.
Hanwha Cimarron had asked the city for an abatement of all state and local non-education property taxes, construction-related transactional taxes not used to fund education, and all mortgage and recording taxes for a period of 15 years.
The company is expected to wrap up construction of the plant by the beginning of July 2022.
"Hanwha Cimarron's decision to build a new manufacturing facility in Opelika is great news for the city and for the state," Gov. Kay Ivey noted in a press release issued by her office. "This is another project that will create jobs for our hard-working citizens while also showing Alabama offers the kind of business environment that companies seek for success."
The Opelika City Council also approved a motion to submit a grant application to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and the Alabama Industrial Access Road and Bridge
Corporation for the construction of a new, 25-ft.-wide asphalt road to connect the new facility to Northpark Drive within the Northeast Opelika Industrial Park.
As a part of the grant application, the city will be asking the state for $1.12 million to complete the project, which the city has estimated will cost $1.2 million.
"We are so pleased that Hanwha Cimarron is investing in Opelika and bringing significant job growth to our community," Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller said in a statement. "We thank the leaders of Hanwha Cimarron for having confidence in Opelika. Our city provides a strong workforce and offers great living amenities. We are excited to support this new industry."
According to AL.com, Hanwha Solutions Corp. acquired Huntsville-based Cimarron Composites in December 2020 as part of an expansion into the hydrogen energy business. Cimarron, founded by a former NASA researcher in 2008, produced tanks for rockets, but its products also have potential implications for hydrogen-powered automobiles and charging stations.
The Opelika project fulfills part of Hanwha's plan for the acquisition, the online news service reported. Last year, Hanwha said it would invest at least $100 million in Cimarron Composites production by 2025.
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