A Chinese textile company is planning to open a cotton spinning facility in Forrest City, with the expectation of creating 800 new jobs. Representatives from Shandong Ruyi Technology Group made the announcement alongside Gov. Asa Hutchinson Wednesday.
The company says it will invest $410 million as it overhauls the abandoned Sanyo television manufacturing plant, which has been vacant for about a decade. Hutchinson signed a memorandum of understanding with the company, based in the Shandong Province in China. The state is offering up to $4 million economic development grants, $4 million in payroll rebates, as well as tax refunds on equipment purchases.
Ruyi Chairman Yafu Qiu said through an interpreter the company hoped to reinvest the incentives.
“As any foreign investors, we get the opportunity to receive whatever incentive available [through] your legislation. We understand that. Also, we maximize all the benefits [for] training to benefit all the local colleagues,” Yafu said.
Ruyi intends to process at least 200,000 tons of cotton every year at the facility, which it plans to start renovating later this year and begin using in mid-2018.
“It takes some time to get there, so you be patient. You've got to remodel the facility, do the hiring, do all the training. But that is the objective and that is the goal over the phases of this project,” Hutchinson said.
Arkansas Economic Development Commission Director Mike Preston said pay for jobs at the facility would start at $15.25 an hour. St. Francis County, where Forrest City is located, has a 4.8 percent unemployment rate, according to the governor. That's compared to the state's 3.6 percent unemployment rate.
Chairman Yafu said the company has no immediate plans to purchase cotton farmland in the Arkansas Delta region to feed the processing plant. Ruyi purchased a 93,000-hectare cotton farm in Australia in 2012.
This post was edited and updated at 9:43am on 5/11/17.