Hefei Risever Machinery (Risever), a Chinese-based heavy equipment parts manufacturer is on the verge of starting operations at its $20 million facility in Jonesboro. The company held a grand opening Wednesday and it should be fully operational by January, newly hired plant manager Chris Taylor told Talk Business & Politics.
"We plan to start production at the start of 2020," he said. "The building is complete and we’re installing equipment."
Risever is in the processing of hiring employees and hopes to have at least 15 in place before the end of the year. The ultimate goal is to employ about 130 workers by the fifth year of operation, Taylor added.
The plant is located in the Craighead Technology Park on C.W. Post Road. Risever General Manager Yonggang Lai said the decision to build the plant in Jonesboro was based on a number of factors, including Arkansas State University, labor costs, logistics, closeness to customers, and the proximity of rail lines and highway access from the plant site.
"This is a day of celebration and a remarkable occasion for Risever," Lai said. "It also marks the start of trial production. We will remain consistent with our business plan, ensuring that $20.5 million of investments are in place. … Our goal in 2020 is to have the capacity to fabricate 6,000 tons of heavy steel per year."
Construction on the 125,000-square-foot plant began in June 2018. It’s the first U.S. plant Risever will build. The company makes steel machine parts for heavy construction equipment. Counter weights, boom arms for excavators and other earth moving equipment are among the products produced by the company, and customers include Caterpillar, Volvo, Terex, and Komatsu.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who attended the grand opening, said he’s pleased that Chinese companies have been investing in Arkansas.
"We’re thrilled that the Risever plant is in production," he said. "It is one of several Chinese companies that are choosing to locate in Arkansas thanks in large part to our skilled workforce and low business costs."
Risever began a "Made in America" project in 2016, Lai said, and at least 70 communities in five different states were considered before Jonesboro was selected.
Hutchinson offered Risever $1 million – just under $7,700 per new job – from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund to help secure the company’s decision. The money will be used for sewer lines and other costs associated with facility construction. Another $100,000 for workforce training was part of the offer package. Risever will also receive rebates on its payroll taxes based on the number of jobs.
Risever spent 10 months negotiating the deal with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Jonesboro Unlimited, a private partnership organization that focuses on economic development in Jonesboro. Risever employs 1,175 workers at its three Chinese-based plants, according to the company.
"Today marks over two years of hard work between Risever, AEDC, and Jonesboro Unlimited. Recruiting companies like Risever is an essential part of our five-year strategic plan to create 2,5000 direct, new, high paying jobs in Jonesboro," JU President Mark Young said.