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Mérida auto supply company expands to Florida, creating 50 jobs for panhandle

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Mérida-based Air Temp is setting up shop in Florida so it can truck its products to customers in the U.S. Photo: Courtesy

Mérida, Mexico — One of the world’s leading automotive suppliers, which is based in Mérida, is establishing its United States headquarters on the Florida panhandle.

Officials in Florida hailed the move for bringing jobs and helping the economy of Bay County, Fla.

The company expects to initially hire 50 people to fill high-tech manufacturing jobs at an average annual salary of US$42,000.

What was originally referred to as “Project Gorrie” is actually an automotive climate-control company called Air Temp, the Bay County Economic Development Alliance announced Wednesday.

EDA President Becca Hardin said that Air Temp, which was founded in 1982, has key customers like Volkswagen and Nissan in the U.S., said Hardin.

Air Temp’s CEO Jorge Havbib said he chose the Florida panhandle for its accessibility to those clients.

“Our location connects us also well with all the auto plants in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, and he could recognize that opportunity so we are really excited that he is the first auto parts manufacturer to come to the region,” said the county executive, Wayne Stubbs.

Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki, who went to Mexico two years ago with economic development and port officials to talk to Air Temp officials, said after the announcement that the 50 jobs may only be the beginning.

Air Temp will manufacture the initial product at their plant in Umán, then ship it through the Panama City port for final assembly and plastic molding. Then it will be shipped by truck to U.S. customers, Hardin said in a press conference.

Brudnicki said the headquarters is going into one of the areas of focused growth in the city, in an old printing plant that closed four years ago.

“They are going to go in there and renovate (the building) and do a lot of work on it,” Brudnicki told the News Herald, the local newspaper. “There hasn’t been anybody in there in a few years. It is like intercepting a pass in the end zone and running it back for a touchdown. It is a big swing, a good deal for Panama City.”

Hardin said they hope to have a ribbon cutting for the company this fall. She anticipates that they will be open by June 2019.

>Sources: Panama City News Herald, My Panhandle

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