FuyaoGov. John Kasich praised a plan by Fuyao, a Chinese auto parts producer, to bring a manufacturing operations into the former General Motors plant in Moraine, during an announcement today in Columbus.

The plant is expected to hire up to 800 workers.

“Ohio is thrilled by its new partnership with Fuyao. Chairman Cao (Dewang) has a bold, long-term vision for his company and it’s great that Moraine, Montgomery County and Ohio are part of it,” Kasich said. “He is one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, winning Ernst and Young’s 2009 World Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He is also one of China’s most generous people, having been named China’s most generous philanthropist four times by China’s Hurun Report. He’s the kind of a person we like to have in Ohio and his company’s investment reaffirms both our strong workforce and our state’s leadership role in automotive and glass manufacturing.”

Said Cao Dewang: “We appreciate Ohio’s strategic location, workforce and pro-business environment in making this decision to open our North American facility. We are making such an investment in Moraine to better service our important OEM customers in the United States and North America.”

Fuyao (pronounced “fwee ow”) Glass Industry Group Co. Ltd. intends to buy more than 1 million square feet of space at the Moraine plant, representing a $200 million investment by its subsidiary, Fuyao North America Inc., according to JobsOhio, the state’s private development arm.

It’s the largest Chinese investment in Ohio, the state believes.

The company plans to begin operations in Moraine by late 2015, JobsOhio said.

Stu Lichter, founder and principal of Industrial Realty Group, which owns the former General Motors plant complex in Moraine, and Cao Dewang, founder and chairman of Fuyao Glass Industry Group, will be at a signing ceremony, as will Gov. John Kasich and others.

Kristi Tanner, a JobsOhio managing director, said it was too soon to discuss how people may apply for openings at the plant. She also could not answer questions about expected employee wages there.

That purchase of plant space depends on completion of the company’s own due diligence research into the plant and the state’s own incentives package to Fuyao, JobsOhio said. Tanner could not offer details Thursday about an incentives package.

Dewang has visited the Moraine plant more than once, Tanner said.

The state expects Fuyao to hire about 800 workers, including employees in production, management, engineers, quality control, forklift operators and maintenance and repair.

JobsOhio believes this is the largest Chinese investment in Ohio and the largest east of the Mississippi since investment data has been tracked. It is the largest private Chinese automotive supplier investment in the U.S. since at least 2004, possibly ever, the agency said.

Fuyao’s agreement to move to the former General Motors complex at Ohio 741 and Stroop Road is the fruition of months of work by local and state officials — and nearly three years of work by the plant’s owner, redeveloper Industrial Realty Group (IRG).

“The attraction of Fuyao to the region is the result of an outstanding team effort. It took the city of Moraine, Montgomery County, JobsOhio, our entire Congressional delegation and the staff here,” said Jeff Hoagland, chief executive of the Dayton Development Coalition.

Tanner agreed that the event may be comparable to when Honda first came to Ohio in the late 1970s, initially to produce motorcycles. More than 30 years later, Honda has more than 13,000 employees in several Ohio auto assembly, research and distribution sites.

“I’ll admit that’s gone through my mind,” Tanner said when asked about comparisons to Honda.

“By any standards this announcement is a remarkable achievement for the state of Ohio,” Mark O’Connell, CEO of OCO Global, an authority on foreign investment, said in a statement provided by the state. “A greenfield investment of over $200 million from anywhere in these uncertain times is an achievement, but from China where investors favor acquisitions rather than new investment is very impressive.

The Dayton Daily News has followed the GM plant since the automaker ceased vehicle assembly there five years ago. The newspaper first reported that the city of Moraine applied to Montgomery County in November for $700,000 in funds to help bring the then-unidentified company to the plant, a manufacturer expected to hire 630 to 800 people, using more than 1 million square feet, according to the city’s application for funds.

GM stopped making vehicles at the site in December 2008, about six months before the automaker embarked on a six-month stint in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The cessation of GM automaking at the Moraine plant was a blow to the Dayton community, which at the time was also suffering the nearly decade-long loss of Delphi’s auto parts manufacturing presence across the area. GM remains a majority owner in another Moraine plant, the DMAX diesel truck engine production site on Dryden Road.

IRG and its Ohio-based partner, Industrial Commerce Limited, acquired the former GM plant in the spring of 2011 and renamed it “Progress Park.” The California-based developer has a substantial stake in Ohio and Dayton-area properties and already has several smaller companies working at Progress Park. IRG is perhaps best known in Ohio for developing a new Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. headquarters in Akron.

Together, IRG and Industrial Commerce Limited own more than 40 million square feet in Ohio.

Fuyao is a Tier 1 supplier to GM and other automakers.

Fuyao Glass Industry Group Co. is China’s biggest maker of automotive glass and had long eyed international expansion plans. The company said it plans to invest $420 million setting up “subsidiaries” in the United States and Russia, according to an October 2013 report on the Chinese news web site, thechinaperspective.com

“Fuyao is going to invest $200 million building a plant in Ohio, which is expected to produce three million sets of auto safety glass annually; the remaining $220 million will be invested in a Russian assembly line with an annual capacity of 450,000 tons of float glass,” a thechinaperspective.com report said.

JobsOhio officials say they traveled to Kaluga, Russia to attend the opening of Fuyao’s automotive glass manufacturing plant there last year. The state started working with Fuyao in April 2013, officials say.

Fuyao has captured 20 percent global market share in its field, and overseas business accounts for 35 percent of its total revenue, thechinaperspective said. The company was founded in 1987.

In April 2008, Fuyao received a 2007 supplier of the year award from GM. The automaker recognized Fuyao with the same honor for 2012.

Dewang, sometimes also identified as “Cho Tak Wong,” was named the Ernst & Young World “entrepreneur of the year” for 2009. Forbes magazine put his net worth at $1.2 billion as of October 2013.

BusinessInsider.com reported last year that Cao is the 187th wealthiest man in China. The site said he has donated some $800 million since 1983.

John Minor, President and Chief Investment Officer for JobsOhio, praised the Dayton Development Coalition, City of Moraine, Montgomery County, and Industrial Realty Group or IRG for helping to make the project a reality.

Minor added that the state of Ohio and JobsOhio plan to announce assistance efforts, including job training, by the time the final site purchase agreement is signed and executed by Fuyao and IRG in the spring.

“It is enormously gratifying to be a part of bringing Fuyao to the Dayton area for their first North American manufacturing plant,” said Stu Lichter, President and Chairman of the Board of IRG. Chris Semarjian, Owner of Industrial Commerce Limited (ICL) added “It is satisfying to know that our involvement in this project is making a substantial difference to the economic growth of the area by providing new jobs and opportunities to local industries to provide support and services.”

Fuyao, headquartered in Fuzhou, China, employs more than 18,000 workers globally and plans to use its new Moraine facility to supply its growing U.S. customer base, including GM, Chrysler, Hyundai, Honda and Kia.

DDN
Thomas Gnau