West Point flourishing through Kia partnership - WRBL

West Point flourishing through Kia partnership

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Kia vehicles are abundant locally Kia vehicles are abundant locally
Mayor Drew Ferguson shows his vision for West Point's growth on the Chattahoochee River Mayor Drew Ferguson shows his vision for West Point's growth on the Chattahoochee River
Kia's Randy Jackson demonstrates how the Kia plant has grown with a model Kia's Randy Jackson demonstrates how the Kia plant has grown with a model

A $900,000 donation from Kia Motors is adding to the tremendous growth of West Point.

Friday the company presented the check to the city. The day before, Troup County received $25,000 from Kia. The partnership with the area is an investment Kia hopes to see a return on.

When Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia first opened, West Point was not very visually appealing. Five years later the downtown area is home to 50 new businesses and a four-year university, and the city is progressively helping the lower income parts of town.

Mayor Drew Ferguson has been there since the beginning, and he says West Point citizens are getting their prayers answered. "
They have come forth and said no matter who you are, no matter where you are in this community, there are four things that you need," he says. "You need a job, you need an education, you need a great house to live in, and you need a sense of place, a sense of community."

The job part has been satisfied. Kia employs 14,000 people from around the area. Education has also become a major focus of the corporation.

One of the original KMMG employees, Randy Jackson, has seen the recent growth firsthand. He says education is so important because "that's our future work force, and we want to make sure when we get out...20 years from now when some of these workers start turning over, we want to have a replacement workforce that's ready."

STEM programs are the major focus of Kia's education funding, as the company wants young, engineer-driven minds. Kia is working directly with all levels of education from lower grades through college to develop that work force.

Beyond donating millions to local schools, the latest check is part of a $6 million pledge towards West Point's economy. The rest of the $6 million will be paid to West Point over the next several years.

Ferguson says, "We've been able to roll the taxes back to our citizens three of the last five years, and at the same time we have almost doubled revenues into our local government."

With numbers like that, the partnership has proved to be mutually beneficial, and Ferguson hopes to see new mixed income housing, along with riverside parks for West Point's citizens in the near future.

Of the partnership, Ferguson adds, "We were able to provide them a very stable business environment to be successful, and in return they really listen to the needs of this community."

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.

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