Kia-Ville, Georgia: A small town catches a big break


West Point, Georgia -- population 3,500 -- was a small town with big troubles. Although its 8.6 percent unemployment rate put it below the state average of 9.7 percent, it was still facing recessionary problems that seem all too common. When the town's textile mills closed in the 1990s, the population began to leak away and business began shuttering their doors; the recent downturn only accelerated its decline. While not yet a ghost town, West Point was definitely on its way off the map.

Recently, however, West Point received some very good news. Kia, the Korean carmaker, has announced plans to open a $1.2 billion, 2,200-acre industrial park. The first new building -- a factory that will construct the Kia Sorento Sport -- has already hired 500 workers. By the time it opens, the carmaker hopes to have 2,000 more employees. With a proposed group of auto-parts factories that will employ 7,500 more workers, Kia plans to bring 20,000 jobs to the small town.