The site of Georgia’s first eco-friendly mixed use business park, The Lakes at Green Valley, was first decided on by citizens of the Griffin-Spalding County community in 2008. Since then, many businesses have committed to setting up shop there, drawn by the many benefits on offer. The Lakes, so named for the 48 acres of lakes spread throughout the property, is close to other industrial areas, providing companies with a location that is both convenient to doing business and supports their efforts to “go green.”
Marukan, a Japanese-owned company specializing in rice vinegar is one of the businesses seeking to relocate to The Lakes. In January 2015, Marukan announced that it will locate its second US brewery at the site with a total investment of $13 million, and vinegar production will begin in 2017. Marukan is also planning on working with students at the University of Georgia-Griffin Campus to research new product opportunities. The company has a long history in the US, as it celebrated the 40th anniversary of its United States headquarters in Paramount, California in 2014.
Marukan is the third Japanese-owned company to make plans to call The Lakes home. In May 2014, Otsuka Chemical Co. announced that it will establish a North American headquarters there as a direct result of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s 2013 trip to Asia. The company is the leading manufacturer of titanate friction materials used in the automotive industry, and will initially create 32 jobs at its first US plant. Also in 2014, The Lakes gained another Japanese client in the form of Japanese printing company Toppan Printing Co. Upon completion of its facility, it will be Toppan’s first transparent barrier film manufacturing site outside of Japan and will create 80 new jobs in Spalding County.
Spalding County is located in Georgia’s third district, which exported $123 million worth of goods to Japan in 2012. Overall, Georgia exported over $1.3 billion worth of goods to Japan in 2012. Japan is among the top largest foreign investors in Georgia, with Japanese-owned companies employing more Georgians than any other international investor in the state.
Sarah Batiuk is the Event Coordinator and a Program Assistant at the East-West Center in Washington.