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Why REAL Park

REAL Park Overview

Company Site Selection

Location decisions for users are singular opportunities to improve competitive advantage. Finding the optimal location is predicated on both financial and resource optimization around labor costs, power, transportation costs, occupancy costs, taxes, and incentives.

New Deliveries Bring New Opportunities

The I-85 corridor between Montgomery, AL and Newnan, GA (“I-85 South Corridor”) is home to Hyundai Motor Group (includes Hyundai Motor and Kia) South Korea’s largest automaker, ranked third in global car sales. This helps to make Alabama the No.2 auto exporting state and in the Top 5 for auto production which includes more than 150 Tier 1 and 2 automotive suppliers in the state.

Per Cushman & Wakefield research, since the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was signed in August 2022, 77 electric vehicle (EV) projects were announced in the U.S., totaling more than $80 billion in investments and nearly 49,000 in projected new jobs. Nearly half of these projects are concentrated in the Southeast. Suppliers and secondary vendors, recognizing the strategic advantage of proximity, are purposefully situating themselves in the same geographic area as plants and auto makers. This spatial proximity not only reduces shipping costs but also increases overall production efficiency in the electric vehicle ecosystem.

Hyundai is capitalizing on the EV production with the addition of the Santa Fe Hybrid, the electrified Genesis GV70 SUV as well as KIA adding the EV9 SUV into production during 2024. Furthermore Hyundai is scheduled to open an EV battery module plant in Montgomery during 2024 and Hyundai has stated that its goal is to be one of the worlds top three electric manufacturers by 2030.

The REAL Park Opportunity

REAL PARK is a 620-acre industrial park conveniently situated between KIA and Hyundai on the I-85 corridor. The optimizing location provides the right combination for automotive and other industries to control supply chain costs through the accessible transportation infrastructure, availability of heavy power, financial incentives from state and county combined with an available workforce.

LIFT Academy flight training program heading to Tuskegee’s Moton Field

By Jerry Underwood | Read the original article on Made in Alabama

TUSKEGEE, Alabama — Governor Kay Ivey announced today that Republic Airways Holdings and its Leadership in Flight Training (LIFT) Academy plan to develop an advanced flight training program in Tuskegee that will prepare the next generation of aspiring pilots for high-paying career opportunities in the airline industry.

LIFT is teaming with Tuskegee University and the City of Tuskegee to base the training center at the storied Moton Field, where the pioneering Tuskegee Airmen received flight training before becoming the first African American military aviators during World War II.

Students in the LIFT program will train on the academy’s signature fleet of Diamond DA40-NG single-engine and Diamond DA42-VI twin-engine aircraft, as well as technologically advanced flight simulators.

“Alabama has a long history of providing critical flight training for military aviators, and historic Moton Field is the perfect location for a training center for a new generation of commercial pilots,” Governor Ivey said.

“The LIFT Academy is an ideal way to build on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airman by creating solid career opportunities for tomorrow’s pilots.”

Governor Ivey announced the flight training center today at a ceremony at Moton Field Municipal Airport, where she was joined by officials from LIFT Academy and Republic Airways Holdings, representatives from Tuskegee University, and state and local leaders.

As part of the project, LIFT will create 35 full-time aviation-related jobs in Tuskegee over a three-year period, with an average annual salary of nearly $75,000, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. In addition, 57 certified flight instructors will be involved in the program at Moton Field.

The project calls for a capital investment of $27 million for aircraft.


The partnership between LIFT and Tuskegee University is designed to encourage, recruit and educate future African American pilots with first-rate in-classroom and in-flight instruction.

The unique program is designed to provide students with two valuable certifications — a bachelor’s degree in aviation science from Tuskegee University and a commercial multi-engine pilot license through LIFT Academy.

The program, which open to all students, commences this fall.

“We are excited to grow our aviation community in Alabama. This expansion is possible due to Governor Ivey’s strong leadership in workforce development, which is bringing significant opportunities for aviation education and training and creating new jobs throughout the state,” said Matt Koscal, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Republic Airways Holdings.

“By joining forces with Tuskegee University and its esteemed heritage, we are honored to enable opportunity and shape the next generation of commercial pilots,” he added.

Indianapolis, Indiana-based Republic Airways Holdings — which operates North America’s second largest regional airline, Republic Airways — formed LIFT Academy as an internal flight school in 2018. Its first students graduated less than three years later.

The program targets students from a wide range of traditional and non-traditional backgrounds, training them in a commercial flight school. LIFT graduates can transition to first officer at Republic Airways with a pathway to the captain’s seat.

“The LIFT Academy project at Moton Field will have massive impacts on Macon County not only through the creation of jobs at the airfield but also the high-paying careers that will stem from the flight training,” said Ellen McNair, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“We’re looking forward to supporting this initiative because it will be a real game changer for the community and its citizens, as well as Tuskegee University and its students,” she added.


Leaders in Tuskegee and Macon County welcomed LIFT’s decision to locate the flight academy at Moton Field.

“Tuskegee University is proud to continue a tradition that has contributed so much to the country through the courage and skills provided by the Tuskegee Airmen. A new generation of Tuskegee airmen and women will have the training they will need to serve our country through the military or as commercial pilots,” said Dr. Charlotte P. Morris, president of Tuskegee University.

“What pleases me most is the enthusiasm with which we see young students ready to step up today to become such an important part of history. The new partnership with LIFT and Republic will build leaders and legacies,” she added.

Mayor Tony Haygood said LIFT’s announcement celebrates Tuskegee’s tradition of making aviation history.

“Commercial flight training by Republic’s LIFT Academy at Moton Field is a very appropriate use of our aviation assets,” Haygood said. “The Tuskegee Airmen would be proud to know that new generations of diverse students will learn to fly from this sacred ground just as they did.”

Joe Turnham, director of the Macon County Economic Development Authority, said the LIFT Academy will add a new dimension to the area’s region, which has seen recent growth in other sectors.

“The economic investment and new jobs created by Republic/LIFT in concert with the community and Tuskegee University are significant and only the beginning towards making Moton Field a hotbed for aviation economic development,” Turnham said.

“It adds another layer of success for us and diversifies our recent gains in manufacturing and retail,” he added. “It will also add demand for housing and services that will lift the quality of life for all our county citizens.”

Spotlight: Lee, Russell & Macon Counties

By Lori Chandler Pruitt | Read the original article on Business Alabama

These three east-central Alabama counties offer a variety of industries to work in and communities with amenities to live in.

Lee, Russell and Macon counties are in east-central Alabama along the Alabama-Georgia border. Both states benefit from each other’s quality-of-life amenities, educational opportunities, economic development and workforce development.

For example, all three counties have automotive suppliers, many of which have continued to grow. And more are coming because of Hyundai in Montgomery County, Kia in West Point, Georgia, and others.

With highly ranked K-12 school districts, workforce development partnerships, stellar amenities and new housing, this area is growing.

Lee County is home to Auburn University, an ever-growing economic engine for the region and beyond. It is a major research university that attracts many high-tech businesses, offering more opportunities for students.

The county’s diverse industrial base has been built around small to medium-sized technology-based, value-added manufacturing companies employing more than 4,700 people. The industrial base includes 46 companies housed in four different parks producing a wide variety of parts including aviation components, engines, filtration parts, power transmission parts, medical plastics, plastics packaging, wireless technologies and automotive parts that range from axles and drive shafts to solenoid valves and textiles.

In Opelika, the county seat, the Northeast Opelika Industrial Park is strategically located on I-85 within the city limits and has all the needed infrastructure in place. Several industries and distribution companies call the park home, and there is room for more, officials say.

The area provides a healthy environment for entrepreneurs and new businesses. The Opelika Chamber of Commerce’s Forward Opelika campaign, which enables the chamber to tackle big issues facing the community, is renovating the former Opelika Library into a business incubator, visitor center, training facility and offices for both the Opelika Chamber and Auburn Opelika Tourism.

Another new incubator, Opelika Main Street’s downtown retail incubator and resource center, opened in a former gift shop. The back half of the property is the Opelika Main Street office.

Opelika has several quality-of-life projects under way or recently completed, including pools, pickleball courts and a new fire station. Opelika is a retail hub for the region, and that sector is growing.

The city of Auburn has several robust entrepreneurial programs, made possible through the city’s partnerships with Auburn University and the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. Those include the New Venture Accelerator, the Auburn Center for Developing Industries, the Auburn Incubator for Manufacturing and the Additive Manufacturing Accelerator. The Yard is a new resource for local startups.

The city is wrapping up improvements to the Auburn Soccer Complex. Projects underway include a new community center, a public safety training center, roadwork and park renovations. The city’s new inclusive playground facility was selected as the 2022 Facility of the Year by the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association.

In Russell County, Phenix City, the county seat, is getting a downtown makeover that will create more urban design for the city, says Shaun Culligan, an economic development manager for the city. Improvements are underway, and it will be done in phases.

New retail is underway as well, including two new developments.

The city’s Public Safety Building on Broad Street has undergone complete renovation and expansion to include a larger city council chamber, an updated municipal courtroom, additional office space and renovated existing office space. The city also plans a new fire training facility with classrooms, bay storage, burn building and drill tower behind Fire Station One.

Phenix City and neighboring Columbus, Georgia, are home to a whitewater park — according to the cities the longest urban whitewater course in the world and a major tourist attraction.

In Macon County, Regional East Alabama Logistics (REAL) Park has announced its first tenant — Trendco USA, a nitrile glove maker that announced in August that it plans to invest $43 million in the plant that will have more than 250 employees.

The park, which lies along I-85, has 700 acres and expects more than $450 million in total economic output. It also lies in a Qualified Opportunity Zone, which means there are federal, state and local incentives available. It’s located in the fast-growing corridor between Kia’s plant in Georgia, and Hyundai in Montgomery, and the entire corridor is growing.

“We are targeting aerospace and forest products as well as warehouse, logistics and manufacturing,” says Joe Turnham, director of the Macon County Economic Development Authority. “We have had so many inquiries, and we’re confident that this park will be successful.”

Other economic news involves another automotive supplier, Samkee Corp., announcing in February 2023 it plans to invest $128 million to locate its first U.S. factory in the Tuskegee Commerce Park and provide parts to Hyundai.

The county already has had some success in recruiting businesses, including travel centers, for its five interstate exits and is working on more, he says.

In Tuskegee, the county seat, a lot of excitement is centered around a new community park. International recording star Lionel Richie, a native of Tuskegee and American Idol judge, visited the area and announced HELLO Park, one of 100 community projects that will be finished this year as part of Lowe’s Hometowns, a five-year, $100 million commitment from Lowe’s to rebuild and revitalize community spaces nationwide. Richie donated an undeveloped plot of land that his family owns.

Lori Chandler Pruitt is a freelance writer for Business Alabama. She lives in Birmingham.

For more on Lee, Russell and Macon counties, see the links below:

This story appears in the December 2023 issue of Business Alabama.

Contact us

Joe Turnham
608 Dibble Street, Suite 7
Tuskegee, AL 36083