When Fuyao Group Chairman Cao Dewang envisioned an investment in the U.S., he aimed for something bold — the world’s largest glass manufacturing plant. Like his vision, the undertaking would be big, but not impossible. With the assistance of a statewide collaborative network of Ohio’s economic development organizations, his vision would come to life in Ohio.
Fuyao Group is one of the world’s leaders in automotive glass production for the original equipment manufacturer and aftermarket replacement glass markets. Ohio was one of several states the company considered for a significant glass manufacturing facility; however, it quickly rose to the top of the list for its responsiveness and support in the evaluation of multiple sites in Ohio.
In September 2013, Kristi Tanner, JobsOhio’s senior managing director of automotive, attended the grand opening of China-based Fuyao Group’s plant in Kaluga, Russia. She presented the company with a personal letter from Gov. John Kasich inviting Chairman Cao to Ohio. This was the first step in a long-term relationship between Ohio and Fuyao.
Fuyao officials had been considering Ohio for this investment. Tanner visited Fuyao corporate headquarters in Fuzhou, China, and encouraged corporate leaders to visit sites in Ohio. Fuyao selected an abandoned factory in Moraine, Ohio, near Dayton, previously occupied by General Motors. On Jan. 10, 2014, Gov. Kasich and Chairman Cao announced the company’s decision to open Fuyao Glass America in Ohio.
Fuyao’s Moraine site would give the company access to a skilled workforce and to automotive suppliers and customers. JobsOhio and Dayton Development Coalition worked with local officials to support the redevelopment of the site and surrounding infrastructure, and with workforce service providers to recruit employees for Fuyao’s new investment.
In June 2016, Fuyao announced it would add an additional 240,000 square feet at its site in Moraine, bringing its total footprint to 2 million square feet, and would commit to creating 1,550 jobs. Fuyao saw that the site had more potential than it initially anticipated and decided to increase the capital investment into the site and double the amount of jobs committed.
Fuyao and Ohio, along with a host of dignitaries and nearly 700 guests, celebrated the grand opening of Fuyao’s newest U.S. plant on Oct. 7, 2016. Chairman Cao said the company invested nearly $477 million to convert the former General Motors assembly plant. By August 2016, the number of contractors working on the site had at times nearly surpassed the total number of direct Fuyao employees to keep pace with the production goals. To date, the company has invested over $500 million in the site and exceeded its job commitment by creating over 2,000 new jobs in Moraine.
Today, Fuyao’s Moraine facility is the world’s largest glass production facility. The investment is China’s largest ever in Ohio and its eighth largest in the United States in the last decade. Moreover, it is also the largest greenfield Chinese investment in the U.S.
Fuyao doubled its need for employees in its first year and started shipping glass several months ahead of its original goal.
Fuyao is also integrating into the community and getting involved with nearby education institutions. The company has partnered with Sinclair Community College on a workforce recruitment and training program that serves as a model for other companies seeking to quickly ramp up a large workforce, much like Fuyao has done in Ohio. Fuyao’s success has led the companies to see potential in increasing their presence in the Dayton region but don’t yet have any fixed plans.
Since Fuyao opened its plant in Ohio, two small firms have made investments near Fuyao, and an additional 10 to 15 companies are currently in negotiations. Additional businesses have opened around the facility. Fuyao’s case demonstrates that international investments facilitated by Ohio’s economic development network have an ascending impact on surrounding communities. Fuyao’s Ohio presence is a model example of how local, regional and state economic development leaders collaborate to put the client first and work with international corporate leaders to support their worldwide investment efforts.