Leigh Miller for GlobalAtlanta
Coweta County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Bill Harrison hopes Ningbo, China-based Lehui Enterprises executives will introduce him to other potential Chinese investors during a trip there, Oct. 8-19.
Mr. Harrison has been invited to visit the headquarters of Lehui Enterprises, a manufacturer of food and beverage processing equipment that announced in June it would become the first Chinese investor in Georgia. It plans to open a plant in Coweta County within 24 months.
The operation, to be called Kingwasong LLC, is a joint venture between Lehui and U.S. food and beverage packaging firm W.Y. Industries. To be located in the Shenandoah Industrial Park in Newnan, the plant is to manufacture and package condiments.
Mr. Harrison was invited by the president of Lehui, Lai Yung Lai, to visit the company’s headquarters in Ningbo and to meet with Ningbo officials and other businesses in its region.
“This is an opportunity to learn more about his business and what opportunities we have to help them grow and succeed here. I hope he will introduce us to other businessmen and associates who might also have a future interest in coming to the U.S. for investment,” Mr. Harrison told GlobalAtlanta.
Mr. Harrison is also to visit industry and government officials in Shanghai and in surrounding provinces.
“There is tremendous potential for other Chinese to come to Coweta County. We’ve learned in this process what real importance the Chinese place on relationships, friendships and introductions. So we believe with this location [Kingwasong] that this will be first of many,” he said.
Mr. Harrison added that the relationships Coweta County is building in China are for the long term. He first began talking with Lehui three years ago. “We’ve established ourselves now, so perhaps we can speed the process up a bit,” he said.
He said the county is seeking any type of mainland Chinese company that needs a physical presence in the U.S., but particularly large equipment manufacturers that need a facility to serve the North American market.
Coweta County already has a substantial Japanese presence, Mr. Harrison noted, adding that he participated in the Southeast U.S.-Japan Conference in Tokyo last October and will participate in the conference in Orlando, Fla., this year.
He said he sees opportunity for Asian investment from Korea, China, Japan and even India. As such, he aims to encourage the growth of appropriate commercial and cultural services for Asians in Coweta County. “Maybe we could create an Asian commercial center and bring a Buford Highway-type center here,” he said.
Mr. Harrison said that he thought the Lehui investment would have a greater local impact in terms of subsequent Asian investment than the $1.2 billion Kia Motors Corp. car manufacturing plant to be built in West Point by Korea-based Hyundai Motor Co.
He is to visit Seoul, Korea, on Sept. 19 with a state delegation to meet with potential suppliers for the Kia plant.
Contact Mr. Harrison at (770) 304-1777 or visit www.developcoweta.com for more information.