KIA and Georgia

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer has published a time line of activities associated with the decision of KIA to establish a 1,2001,500 person auto manufacturing plant in Georgia. A few neat observations for you hard core economic development fans out there:

1. The Georgia Governor went to South Korea to pitch the firm in 2003. The decision was made in 2006. Sometimes it takes a while to get these big deals done. Lesson? Don’t call on KIA in 2005 when they started planning in 2003 or earlier. Sales efforts need to start upstream – several years before the decision is actually made.

2. The friggin’ site is 2,194 acres. That’s 3.5 square miles for one company. That is larger than all but 2-3 of all the industrial parks in New Brunswick. Lesson here? Take a page out of Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, etc. and identify those megasites in advance. Have them in hand when visiting potential clients.

3. Shut up, Hailey Barbour, Governor of Mississippi. He announced KIA was looking at Mississippi. Never go public during a site selection process. Period.

4. It’s a team effort. In addition to the Governor’s office and the Department of Economic Development, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Technical and Adult Education were part of the Georgia team. Top officials from relevant departments must be part of the sales process.

5. Feb 24: Chairman Chung blesses the site and goes on to the new Hyundai plant near Montgomery, Ala. Kia is a subsidiary of Hyundai. Georgia Economic Development folks and Kia officials go to dinner at the Atlanta Fish Market in Buckhead. Before dinner, Lesser and Ahn work out the final details of the deal. They negotiate terms on the back of an old receipt. When the deal is done, the two men shake hands, sign the receipt and have dinner. Ah, the old ‘back of the napkin’ dealing, I get tingles just thinking about it.

6. Terms of the deal have not been made public, yet but I have heard it will be north of $200 million USD.