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Ground was broken 20 miles away from the actual site, shovels ceremonially plunged into a pile of dirt under the protection of a large tent. The speeches and the hoopla for BOCAR Group had been chased inside by foul weather. But it was no less momentous.

Ad lib as it all may have been, “This is a true start for the corporation,” said plant manager Justin Rummer. “There’s been a lot of legwork laid, but this is a true start.”

However, Rummer has already gotten a two-month head start on the groundbreaking, the “boots on the ground” guy for BOCAR, an international “tier one” automotive parts provider.

It’s a first-class location for a manufacturing plant.”

BOCAR has chosen a site located inside the Huntsville city limits in Limestone County to be its first manufacturing location in the United States, making a $115 million investment in the site. The company, founded nearly 60 years ago in Germany, builds pumps, carburetors and other aluminum and plastic parts for numerous auto manufacturers.

“This is a great day for us,” Mayor Tommy Battle said. “This is one of those days you look at and say we’ve put a lot of pieces in place. We’ve provided a great infrastructure. We’ve put together an educated workforce. We’ve put in the utilities. And we’ve made sure we put in a quality of life, a quality of life that makes you want to be a part of our community.”

“We look for companies like BOCAR, with a tradition of excellence,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of Commerce for the State of Alabama of the partnership.

And BOCAR was looking for a place like Huntsville.

“It’s a first-class location for a manufacturing plant,” Rummer said.

“It’s a city of bright technology,” said BOCAR CEO Wilhelm Baum.

Construction expected to begin in spring

According to Rummer, the company will soon begin the bid process for construction, hoping to begin building in April or May, with the 350,000-square foot facility on Bibb Garrett Road, near I-65, completed within a year.

There will be some 300 new jobs, and applicants will soon be able to apply for positions via the Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) website.

BOCAR announced its plans for the manufacturing facility in early November. On Tuesday, at a gathering at the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce, company president Marcus Baur explained that the company was “taking a step closer to our customers” by opening this U.S. facility.

In choosing North Alabama, BOCAR has found a location that is the “belt-buckle” of the automotive industry in the Southeast, according to Battle, noting the proximity of so many automakers from northern Kentucky to central Alabama.

“It’s a big commitment,” Baur said. “When we invest, we come to stay.”

Baur said that “Huntsville offers a great quality of life and a very good infrastructure. We decided because of the people here to make this investment here. We were impressed with the training program of the colleges and universities. I can only say you’re doing a very good job.”