Alcoa unveiled a $300 million expansion at its Riverdale, Iowa, plant to meet increased demand for aluminum from the automotive industry.
Crews at the expanded Davenport Works facility will produce aluminum sheet products for the auto industry. Wednesday, Manufacturing Director Rob Woodall said aluminum's durability, strength, and light weight is making it a popular choice for automakers looking to increase fuel economy.
"Recently, Ford announced that it's going to put more aluminum on it's F-150 truck. That could save 700 pounds on a full-size pick-up, and it equates to a lot of gas mileage. It's something consumers want, and it's something [automakers] need to do from a regulation standpoint," said Woodall.
Demand for aluminum to produce vehicles is expected to nearly double by 2025, and the amount of aluminum body sheet content in North American vehicles alone is expected to quadruple by next year.
With its $300 million expansion, leaders believe Alcoa is ready to take advantage of that skyrocketing demand.
"Automotive has been about 15 percent of our business, now it's growing to about 40 percent," said Woodall.
Production workers also joined the celebrations Wednesday afternoon. Michael Abbott has worked with Alcoa for 14 years and said he's thankful for the expansion.
"To learn the new equipment, the new technology... just to be able to have that opportunity," said Abbott.
The expansion also creates 150 new, full-time jobs, and it helped the plant retain an additional 200 current, full-time positions. Alcoa will be hiring throughout the year for more of these jobs, which include electricians, general mechanics, and highly-skilled manufacturing positions.
"These are really quality, good jobs -- the kind that we want. We're starting to see a revitalization of the manufacturing," said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad after he helped cut the ribbon on the facility.
The completion of nearly two years of construction also represents the biggest investment Alcoa has made in the Quad Cities in nearly two decades.
"It's a huge day," said Woodall.