A Honda expansion to be announced today in Alabama will add 4,500 jobs at suppliers and other support companies, the Birmingham News reported.

A state politician, speaking at a conference, didn’t mention Honda’s name but said “a new auto plant” responsible for creating 2,000 assembly-line jobs and 4,500 spinoff jobs would be announced today, the newspaper said.

Honda yesterday said in an advisory it would make an announcement today about its plant in Lincoln, which already employs 2,300 people and makes 500 Odyssey minivans and V6 engines a day. The Birmingham News, citing “people familiar with the company’s plans”, said the company is expected to spend between $US400 million and $500 million to double production and add 2,000 jobs at the plant.

Citing economic development officials who have seen the plans, the newspaper said the expansion would be 1.1 million square feet, a mirror image of the existing plant, and would begin production in spring 2004.

Honda officials have not said which models would be built but the “light trucks” they have admitted to could include the Odyssey, Acura MDX SUV or newly-launched Pilot. In a country where most buyers expect immediate delivery from dealer stock, these models routinely have two-month wait lists.

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The Birmingham News said Honda opened the plant in Lincoln, a 45-minute drive east of Birmingham, in November after spending $US580 million on it. The plant has attracted 16 suppliers making minivan and engine parts and components that Honda doesn’t manufacture itself. Those suppliers employ about 1,000 people in Alabama.

The newspaper said each assembly line job at a vehicle plant creates another 6.6 jobs at suppliers, restaurants, grocery stores and other companies, according to the Altarum Institute Centre for Automotive Research in Michigan.

Some Honda suppliers have built plants in Georgia, which has kept Alabama from realizing the 3.3 supplier jobs the Center of Automotive Research says each assembly line position usually creates, the Birmingham News said.