In the first week of April, Kubota Manufacturing of America (KMA) opened a new facility in Gainesville, Georgia and Kubota Tractor Corporation (KTC) opened its new North American headquarters in Grapevine, Texas, marking 45 years business in the United States.
Kubota, a machinery manufacturing company based in Osaka, Japan, is widely known for its iconic orange tractors. The group has been actively pursuing strategies to respond to the increasing US consumer demand, and the ground-breaking ceremony in Texas, attended by Governor Greg Abbott and others, celebrated the grand opening of the three-story, eco-friendly KTC building. The construction was an investment of over $50 million which includes an R&D facility on the 4.4-acre site. Housing KTC and Kubota Industrial Equipment (KIE), it is estimated to employ around 2,400 Texans.
Three days later, KMA opened its new 180-acre utility vehicle production facility in Georgia. The new facility is part of an expansion project in the state, and it opened only three miles from an existing facility. More than 40 years after KMA’s first operation in Norcross, and first office in Suwanee, KMA is now the employer of over 1,300 area residents, and along with a KIE facility in Jefferson, Kubota creates over 2,400 Georgia jobs. The KMA National Distribution Center is also under major expansion, attracting $16 million in investment.
Kubota is not the only Japanese enterprise to settle its main production site in Georgia. Being the home of the Consulate General of Japan, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Georgia is the beneficiary of $350 million, $100 million, $80 million investment projects from major Japanese companies, Toyota, Toppan Printing, and Hitachi Automotive respectively. Japan is the state’s fifth largest trade partner as exports from Georgia totaled $1.4 billion in 2016. Japanese businesses are the top foreign employers and investors in Georgia with at least 40 companies operating in 501 locations. This strong economic relationship is the fruit of old labors; Georgia established a state trade office in Japan almost 45 years ago, and led trade missions there in 2013 and 2015.
Yumiko Kozu is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and an exchange student at Dartmouth College.