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UACJ Automotive Whitehall Industries, Inc. plans to expand its Paducah presence with a $3.3 million investment expected to bring an additional 50 jobs.

The project includes a 56,000-square-foot expansion of the company’s 100,000-square-foot facility at 5600 Commerce Drive, which will include machining centers, robotics and additional fabrication equipment.

The expansion is expected to create 50 jobs by July 2018 with many of them coming as early as the fourth quarter this year.

According to David Cooper, president of Whitehall Industries, change in the auto industry is among the chief reasons for the expansion.

“We are in the business of manufacturing aluminum parts for the automotive industry,” Cooper said.

“And because of the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, the future fuel efficiency target that all of the original equipment manufacturers are going to have to abide by, they’re having to find ways to improve gas mileage. One of the ways is to reduce the weight of the car.”

For that reason manufacturers are converting some parts from steel to aluminum, he said.

“Secondly, we have a good reputation, good quality and on-time delivery, and therefore our customers come back to us for more and reward us with a lot of business,” he said.

The performance of the local facility, which opened in the Paducah industrial park in 2013, was also a key factor, Cooper said.

“We have a nice operation in Paducah and a workforce that’s doing a good job,” he said. “One of the reasons we chose Paducah is, first of all, we had some incentives that led us there in the first place, and geographically it’s close to some of our customers. So it’s a good spot, and we’ve got a well-trained and growing workforce. We’re very pleased to move some more work down there.”

Whitehall’s Paducah facility produces some parts that are used to make automobile sunroofs and other equipment, according to Cooper.

UACJ Automotive Whitehall Industries is a subsidiary of UACJ Corp., based in Tokyo. UACJ Corp. is a leading supplier of aluminum rolled products, extrusions, foil, castings and forgings in Japan, Europe, Asia and North American. Whitehall was purchased in April 2016 by UACJ.

Read more: Paducah automotive supplier plans $3.3 million expansion with 50 new jobs