Chinese manufacturer Sentury Tire and Governor Nathan Deal confirmed in September that the company sited LaGrange, Georgia, for its first facility outside Asia. The Troup County operation is a $530 million investment that will create over 1,000 jobs related to production, marketing, sales, warehousing, and distribution. Sentury Tire aims to initiate production by late 2018, and output 12 million passenger and light truck tires annually for its North American market. Eventually, the facility may expand to include an R&D component that will require around 100 additional highly skilled laborers.
Thanks to this deal, Sentury Tire will join 38 other Chinese companies that invest in Georgia, and become the first to invest in LaGrange. The Peach State has pushed for stronger business ties with China for several years. Paul Swenson, Managing Director of Trade with China at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, told Asia Matters for America that the department maintains representation in China for trade, tourism, and FDI initiatives. During a trade mission to China and Japan last year, a delegation from the Georgia Department of Economic Development met with the president of Sentury Tire. Meanwhile, Georgia’s Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce sent a trade mission to China and South Korea. As a result of the 12-day mission, two Chinese businesses announced plans to set up shop in Gwinnett County.
Georgia not only benefits from Chinese investment, but also from Japanese and Korean investment. Georgia is home to 169 Japanese majority owned firms that employ 26,800 American workers. Several Japanese companies have committed to installing facilities at an eco-friendly business park in Griffin-Spalding County that is under development. Approximately 50 Korean-owned businesses operate in Georgia and provide over 5,000 jobs. Kia Motors, an automotive manufacturer and subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company, alone has contributed more than $1.5 billion to Georgia’s economy and created 3,000 jobs in West Point.
Kim Meihua Roy is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at Brigham Young University.