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Chinese auto parts company to put new plant at former GM site in Ohio


January 13, 2014
By Ann Sanner The Associated Press

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A Chinese company will build an automotive glass-making plant in southwest Ohio, creating up to 800 jobs and revitalizing a former General Motors factory site.

Officials from Fuyao Glass Industry Group Co. and the owner of the site signed an agreement in Columbus. The company is making a $200-million investment at the site in Moraine, near Dayton.

Ohio officials said it’s the biggest Chinese investment yet in Ohio. Gov. John Kasich said it’s a reaffirmation of both their strong workforce and the state’s leadership role in automotive and glass manufacturing.

State officials said the plant is expected to begin operations late next year, employing 800 people within three years. The General Motors assembly plant employed 1,100 workers when it closed in late 2008.

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Fuyao plans to buy more than one million square feet of space in a deal worked out with the state’s private development arm, JobsOhio, with involvement by local and regional development officials.

Details of incentives offered to the company were not immediately disclosed.

“We appreciate Ohio’s strategic location, workforce and pro-business environment in making this decision to open our North American facility,” Cao Dewang, Fuyao’s chairman, said in a statement.

Michael Robinet, managing director of IHS Automotive in Southfield, Mich., said that Chinese and Indian companies have established other auto-related operations in the United States. But he said the Moraine investment is a major development.

“It’s quite sizable,” Robinet said. He said the plant site near Interstate 75 would put the supplier within about four hours of auto manufacturer plants in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana producing more than three million vehicle units combined annually. He added that the redeployment of the former GM site for auto-related use is a success story, since a number of other former auto plants around the country remain vacant or were converted for unrelated uses.

“This is a little more the exception than the norm,” Robinet said in an interview.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, among those in Ohio’s congressional delegation involved in pushing for the plant, called it an economic boost. He said it will likely also spur jobs at suppliers and distribution centres.

Industrial Realty Group acquired the former GM plant site in 2011 and renamed it “Progress Park.” Smaller companies are already operating there.

Associated Press writer Dan Sewell contributed in Cincinnati.