Luring Hyundai

Mississippi's political heavyweights are trying to use their influence to land another auto plant in the state. Governor Ronnie Musgrove, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott and Congressmen Roger Wicker and Chip Pickering have all been in South Korea in recent days. They're trying to persuade Hyundai Motor Company executives to build the company's first U-S assembly plant in Mississippi.

Officials with the South Korean automaker say Musgrove met with Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-koo on yesterday and toured a Hyundai assembly line today. Lott spokesman Lee Youngblood said the senator led a congressional delegation to South Korea on Saturday to discuss trade issues and other topics and meet with Hyundai officials. Hyundai recently announced a short-list of four U.S. candidate states for its plant, which include Mississippi, Ohio, Alabama and Kentucky.

A Hyundai spokesman says the company is in the final state of making a decision. Hyundai plans to produce 300-thousand cars at the U.S. plant, with production to begin in 2005. The plant will employ two-thousand people and can create eight-thousand additional jobs in the service and maintenance sectors. A Nissan plant is under construction in Madison County.