Fuyao Glass America Inc. will nearly double the amount of jobs originaly promised at the former GM plant in Moraine and now plans to hire 1,550 workers and invest a total of $360 million in the site, Fuyao Chairman Cao Dewang and Gov. John Kasich announced Tuesday.
The announcement comes just one year after Cao made public his plans to buy 1.2 million square feet of the plant, invest $230 million and hire 800 workers. Cao returned to the Ohio Statehouse to announce a stunning expansion of the already substantial project.
“This has to be one of the biggest international deals in Ohio history. This is a once-in-a-lifetime type of project,” said Jeff Hoagland of the Dayton Development Coalition.
Speaking through an interpreter, Cao said the company’s recent purchase of a flow glass plant in Mt. Zion, Ill. means Fuyao will have supply capacity beyond the original scope of the Moraine project. Fuyao will convert raw material into auto glass in Illinois and then ship it to Moraine for bending and shaping for its U.S. auto manufacturing customers as well as for after-market suppliers such as Safelite Auto, Cao said.
Kasich said the expansion now puts the Fuyao project in the top 10 biggest Chinese business investments in the country. “It’s pretty remarkable in a short period of time. JobsOhio reached out early on and stretched so that we could win the initial Fuyao investment and obviously it’s paying off,” Kasich said.
There could be even more Chinese investment in Ohio down the road. Kasich said he is considering an offer to visit China as Cao’s guest.
“I don’t know that this will happen but it’s likely that the chairman will host me in China at some point to provide an opportunity to for me to meet more businesses and let people know that Ohio is open for Chinese investment and Chinese business,” Kasich said.
Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman said Cao “can open doors for us, I think. He is one of the most important philanthropists in China and he’s here, he’s here in Dayton.”
Ambassador Zhang Quiye, Consul General for the People’s Republic of China in New York, said her advice to Kasich is to take Cao up on his offer since business relationships are based on personal connections.
“There is a Chinese saying that seeing is believing. So I think you must go to the country to understand how the Chinese people actually live and work and to understand a bit of the Chinese culture. That will enable any business transactions to be successful,” she said. “Chairman Cao from Fuyao, he came thousands of miles to make such a big investment. I think the governor should also pay a return visit to the chairman and also to see what China is all about.”
Cao also said Tuesday that Fuyao is looking at building a research and development facility and signaled that that is one reason why the company is donating $7 million to the University of Dayton to support its China Institute, which opened in August 2012.
“I am committed to ensuring the excellence of Fuyao’s U.S. auto glass manufacturing,” said Cao. “I strongly believe that Ohio is the best location to base these operations, which is why I have chosen to once again invest in the Moraine facility and the Greater Dayton community.”
Operations in Moraine to begin this spring
Fuyao, which has 18,000 employees worldwide, is the largest auto glass supplier in China and controls 18 percent of the global market. Its customers include GM, Chrysler, Honda, Hyundai and Kia. Recruiting for job openings in Moraine is underway and operations are expected to begin in March or April. The company is in the process of bringing in manufacturing equipment for automobile glass assembly at the facility.
For the expansion, Moraine was competing against sites in the South and Midwest as well as in China. On Tuesday, JobsOhio and Cao signed an agreement that will deliver $4 million in JobsOhio workforce training and economic development grants to Fuyao.
U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman as well as U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, state lawmakers and local officials all praised the announcement.
“This site could have been reduced to a parking lot, and today we see thousands of jobs that perhaps are headed to this site that will make a difference for families in our community,” Turner said.
Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley said “It’s a psychological boost for us. It is going to provide really great, meaningful work for many families in this community.”
State Sens. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, and Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, attended the announcement at the Statehouse. Lehner said “A year ago, we got a glimmer of hope when Fuyao chose our region to host its North American expansion and today, we’ve renewed that hope as the project is garnering more investment, more attention, and has far exceeded our job creation expectations.”
Beagle said “Fuyao, like many companies around the globe, has found an asset in Ohio’s strong workforce and ever improving business climate, two attributes that are essential in moving our state’s economy forward.”
State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, called the news incredible and said he is happy he supports the GOP-led policies that are bringing jobs back to the region. “When General Motors left, many people lost their jobs for a long time. The jobs Fuyao are creating will lift people up with gainful employment,” he said in a written statement. The Moraine plant is in Antani’s statehouse district.
Landing the Fuyao project last year was one of the biggest coups of JobsOhio and the Kasich administration. The deal was inked 12 months ago and in May the Ohio Tax Credit Authority voted to give a 15-year tax credit worth up to nearly $10 million to Fuyao.
The company must meet its promises to collect on the credit: hire 800 employees and generate an annual payroll of $32.5 million by the end of 2019 and stay at the Moraine facility for at least 18 years, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency. Montgomery County also agreed to a $700,000 grant and the city of Moraine extended a $1 million, five-year forgivable loan if the company hits certain benchmarks.
Big news for Moraine
The additional jobs will certainly give the region a boost, said Moraine City Manager David Hicks.
“We’re so impressed with Fuyao,” he said. “They have continued to expand their commitment to this region. It’s both in the employment base, the employment numbers and the facility.”
“Everything they do, they’ve been very aggressive and very consistent in their expansion,” he added. “As this thing moves forward they keep expanding their base.”
Hicks said Fuyao site selectors initially looked at 600,000 to 800,000 square feet and the company agreed on 1.4 million square feet on 105 acres. Expansion announcements are coming much quicker than initially hoped, he said.
“So it’s just great,” Hicks said. “And we expected that since they were taking so much more we might be lucky enough to see some expansion down the road. But what’s happening is that Fuyao just continues to expand. As we look at them, we see what a wonderful company it’s going to be to have.”
The company’s commitment to jobs in the region and its donation last week to the University of Dayton sets the tone for how it will benefit the area, Hicks said.
“I think it’s just the start of what the region can expect to benefit from by having a Fuyao as a corporate resident in this region,” he said. “Everything they’re doing is good for the community – more jobs, plus being involved in philanthropy. The donation is great.”
The impact the additional jobs will have on Moraine’s tax base has not been calculated yet, Hicks said, but he expects the city will reap the benefits in time.
“We don’t have to have immediate gratification,” he said. “We just want to see the future build.”
Fuyao has partnered with Ohio Means Jobs in Montgomery County and Sinclair Community College Workforce Development to hold regional recruitment events.
Montgomery County Workforce Development has taken “thousands” of Fuyao job applications and expects to see many more following Tuesday’s announcement, said Mark Anderson, an agency spokesman.
Montgomery County Workforce Development educates prospective workers about Fuyao and the application process. The agency also does assessments to try to determine who should move forward in the interview process.
“When you have 1,500 jobs coming with one company, it tends to open up more opportunities for people who may not be qualified in the manufacturing industry,” including retail, hospitality and supply chain positions, Anderson said.
“There is going to be a lot of growth that comes out of the new job announcements,” Anderson said.