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Hyundai considers relocating

Hyundai considers relocating

Wetlands may stop

expansion in Eugene

Hyundai says it may abandon its Eugene computer-chip factory to build a larger complex elsewhere in Oregon and the Rogue Valley remains among a handful of possibilities.

The South Korean company opened its Eugene plant two years ago but Hyundai officials say the company may abandon it if the city cannot accommodate its expansion plans.

John Lively, Hyundai's spokesman in Eugene, says the company probably will not be able to build on more than half of its 205-acre site in west Eugene because 65 acres of wetlands are scattered across the property. He says that doesn't leave enough land for the factories Hyundai wants to build.

2002, the company wants to build a $2.5 billion plant to cut memory chips from silicon wafers. The plant would employ 800 to 1,000 workers.

Hyundai doesn't know exactly how much more land the second factory would need, but company officials are investigating other sites, including one in White City. Other possibilities range from Junction City to Corvallis and Lebanon.

There are a limited number of sites in the state and we haven't ruled any out, Lively said. It's not more than a handful.

Lively confirmed that Hyundai did meet with Rogue Valley representatives about a site in White City earlier this year. That meeting was reported by the Mail Tribune in February, but Lively would not comment at the time.

Despite the wetlands issue, Eugene remains a strong possibility because of the company's existing facilities and work force there.

There's a huge investment in Eugene, Lively said.

All things being equal, Lively said Eugene remains the most logical site in Oregon. But because of the wetlands issue, he added, the company doesn't know whether all things are equal. A public hearing on the wetlands is scheduled for April 12.

Oregon is far from the only location that the international conglomerate is considering. Several other sites, including spots in Korea and Europe, are still on the table.

A Rogue Valley contingent of government and economic development officials made a pitch for the plant to Hyundai on Feb. 10. Officials reached Wednesday said they hadn't heard anything further from Hyundai.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)