Construction is scheduled to be complete in 2019 on Mercedes-Benz U.S. International’s (MBUSI) new Global Logistics Center and after-sales North American hub in Bibb County, said Jason Hoff, president and CEO of MBUSI.
A substantial amount of work has already been done on the project, which was announced last September on 278 acres in the Scott G. Davis Industrial Park and in Woodstock, Ala, near its plant in Vance, Ala.
In total, MBUSI announced $281.5 million in capital investment and 606 jobs last year. This landed the company on the Birmingham Business Alliance’s New and Expanding Industry List and expanded its operations into the Birmingham seven-county region from its home base in nearby Tuscaloosa County.
“It’s exciting to see the buildings coming along so fast,” said Hoff. “The site is starting to take shape, and there is a lot of activity out there.”
MBUSI is building an 800,000-square-foot Global Logistics Center that will support worldwide operations connected with the vehicles it manufactures in Tuscaloosa. It will supply oversea assembly plants with car kits, where Mercedes-Benz produces vehicles for local markets.
Its 1.3 million-square-foot after-sales North American hub, co-located with the Global Logistics Center, will provide overseas markets with spare parts, meeting rising demands for the company’s growing variety of models. This will consolidate three existing after-sales warehouses in the state.
This project is one of the largest economic development projects for Bibb County in recent years and will affect the supplier base throughout the entire Birmingham region significantly, said Jeff Traywick, vice president of economic development for the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA), who worked with the company and state and local officials to finalize the project.
Over 25 automotive suppliers are in the Birmingham region and serve not just MBUSI but also nearby plants for Honda, Hyundai, the forthcoming Toyota-Mazda plant, Autocar, which is Birmingham’s newest vehicle manufacturer, and others throughout the Southeast.
“When Mercedes-Benz located in Tuscaloosa, the Birmingham region’s industrial makeup changed dramatically,” said Traywick. “The area has seen tremendous growth in its supplier base and support services to the automotive industry, and last year Jefferson County announced its own assembly operation with Autocar.”
The Bibb County project signifies a shift for MBUSI closer to the Birmingham region and its workforce.
“We do a lot of business in Birmingham,” Hoff said. “As our business expands, we are moving [more] into the Birmingham area. The Birmingham area is significantly larger than Tuscaloosa in terms of workforce. I believe we can do good things in the future and help find more good jobs for people in the Birmingham area.”
Hoff said a large percentage of the company’s 3,700 employees commute in from Birmingham since the facility is halfway between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa in Vance. That number will likely grow as the Bibb County project comes online in 2019 and MBUSI’s overall $1 billion plan to build electric vehicles, which was announced at the same time, comes online.
“Profit is one measure of success, but success is also what impact we have on the area and how many jobs we can create,” Hoff said. “Success comes in a lot of different forms [including] the number of people and lives we impact.”
In the next BBA newsletter, don’t miss Jason Hoff talking about MBUSI’s apprenticeship program and how its building its workforce.
Want to know more about the project and why MBUSI chose Bibb County for this project? Hear more from Jason Hoff by subscribing to "The Project: Inside Corporate Location Decision" on iTunes and listen to "Behind the Mercedes-Benz Expansion: An Unlikely Win for Rural Bibb County, Alabama."