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Fuyao planned $200M among top 10 Chinese investments in U.S.

Fuyao Glass Industry Group’s $200 million plan to create an auto glass manufacturing plant at a local former General Motors facility will be the 9th largest Chinese investment in the United States since at least 2004 and maybe longer, a JobsOhio executive said Friday.

A New York City investments researcher says the planned investment actually ranks higher.

The size of the investment says something about Fuyao’s confidence in the plan to make auto glass in Moraine, said Kristi Tanner, managing director, manufacturing, for JobsOhio, the state’s private development arm.

“Fuyao’s investment is not only significant for Moraine and the state of Ohio, but it’s really historic in terms of Chinese investment into the United States,” Tanner said. “Fuyao’s investment of $200 million is the 9th largest Chinese investment into the United States since fDi Markets, the Financial Times of London, has been tracking the information.”

A New York-based consultant that monitors Chinese and other investments globally, Rhodium Group, puts Fuyao’s plan as the fifth largest Chinese “greenfield” investment in the United States. Thilo Hanemann, Rhodium Group research director, counts what Fuyao is planning in Moraine as a “greenfield” project, even though the company is planning to buy part of a longstanding manufacturing plant.

“If it (Fuyao) actually ends up spending $200 million, it’s one of the five largest (Chinese business) greenfield investments in the United States,” Hanemann said.

He cautioned against “overhyping” investments by Chinese companies, saying such investments are not a “silver bullet” that can be expected to revive a local economy still suffering years after the Great Recession technically ended.

But he said Fuyao’s investment, if successful, could lead to further Chinese companies shifting work to Ohio and the U.S., and he estimated that it could be five to seven years before a Chinese automaker builds an assembly plant here.

“It’s certainly part of a bigger structural trend,” Hanemann said.

Though Fuyao Chairman Cao Dewang publicly affirmed his company’s local plans in a ceremony with Gov. John Kasich last month, the company is researching the purchase of 1.4-million square feet of the Moraine plant. Tanner sounded confident that the deal will close in early spring. Hiring of management for the plant may take place this summer and the plant could be operating in mid-2015, Tanner said.

In a few years, the plant is expected to have at least 800 workers, all of them new to the community, the state has said.

Fuyao had a big two-day community-wide party when it opened an auto glass manufacturing plant in central Russia last year, a plant company sources have said is similar to what Fuyao is planning in Moraine. Tanner thinks Fuyao could have a similar opening ceremony in Moraine.

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