It is there that HMA President Tom Shoupe made a big announcement.
“I would like to announce that Honda is investing $84 million and adding 100 new jobs,” Shoupe said.
HMA chose to celebrate its 10th anniversary in style with the news of the investment, which will open the positions for 100 new full-time associates and increase the plant’s annual production capacity to 340,000 vehicles and engines.
But before the big news, Mark Morrison, manager of corporate affairs at Honda, gave a warm welcome to those who gathered to support them on their big day.
“This is a celebration that has been 10 years in the making,” Morrison said.
And guests got to see just what those 10 years looked like as a video, “10 Years of Momentum,” played on two large TV screens and detailed every step HMA has made since it selected Lincoln as its home on May 6, 1999.
The video went through the years, highlighting several of HMA’s achievements, including the very early planning and building stages, and a celebratory event where the first “customer-ready” Odyssey minivan rolled off the assembly line Nov. 14, 2001 — six months ahead of the original schedule.
The Talladega College choir sang a rendition of “That’s What Friends Are For,” under the direction of Dr. Lindy McLeod.
Several HMA leaders and community leaders, including Rogers, state Sen. Jerry Fielding and Lincoln Mayor Lew Watson, expressed their thanks to HMA, its associates and their sense of teamwork.
“With the exodus of the textile industry, Honda has certainly been a godsend,” Rogers said, before presenting a flag that had flown over the nation’s Capitol that morning in honor of the anniversary.
“Honda has been of great assistance to Lincoln,” Watson said. “Thank you for your assistance and thank you for coming to Alabama.”
Fielding presented a proclamation to Shoupe in honor of Honda’s accomplishments before Bentley took the stage.
“Honda is not only making an impact on this community but an impact on the state of Alabama,” Bentley said. “Thank you Honda for being willing to locate into this state and train in this state but most importantly, I thank the workers.
“Around this country they see those Honda vehicles and they can say, ‘I made that.’”
Bentley praised Honda’s decision to locate in Lincoln, and said that recruiting industry has been and continues to be on the top of his list.
“With the earthquake in Japan and the tsunami that followed, you didn’t lay off any of your workers, thank you,” Bentley said.
He also praised HMA and its associates for their help in the aftermath of the devastating April 27 tornadoes, and the work ethic that translated to helping others in need during such a dark time in Alabama’s history.
“I want to thank you for all the great things you did for Alabama at that time,” Bentley said. “Thank you for making our state a stronger state every day.”
A male quartet from the Talladega College choir closed out the celebration with “Happy Birthday Honda,” sung to the tune of “Sixteen Candles” by doo-wop group The Crests, and received a standing ovation.
“In the next 10 years, I expect to see HMA as still an essential part of Honda in North America,” Shoupe said. “I think it’s a testament to the deep relationships and partnerships we’ve had over the years.
“We have a very bright future.”
Contact Aziza Jackson at email@example.com.