Jeremy Stratton, director of Danville’s economic development department, said the IDA will prepare the shell building for GOK.
“We’re in a time crunch to get it done,” Stratton said. “They [GOK] want to get started quickly and get going by the first of the year.”
Stratton said finishing the interior of the building will take about two months.
GOK has committed to hiring 300 employees by the end of 2015, and expects to have half that number employed by the end of 2013, Stratton said. The overall average wage for employees will be $30,000 a year.
Although the news release stated the company will be “utilizing the latest advanced manufacturing techniques to assemble and finish furniture,” Stratton said very few of the jobs will require technological expertise.
“It’s a lot of hand assembly, old-style assembly; it’s not very automated at all,” Stratton said.
The company has also committed to making capital investments of $12.5 million and the Tobacco Commission provided them with a $1 million incentive to come to Danville.
“The Tobacco Commission is all about improving the economy of the regions that it serves,” Delegate Danny Marshall, also a member of the commission, said. “This project is one which the commission was able to support with a $1 million grant from its Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund, and it is just the kind of project that we need in our community to improve our local economy.”
Two people have already been hired for the Bridge Street office, Stratton said — a local woman and a woman from Los Angeles who speaks Mandarin.
Stratton said the project has been in development for about a year.
“It’s all about relationships and making them feel we’re going to do what we say we’re going to do,” Stratton said.
Chinese furniture manufacturers have been under pressure from the U.S. government to stop flooding the American market with China-made furniture, and high import taxes have been placed on Chinese furniture. By assembling the furniture here, the company will save on some of those taxes, Stratton said.
There are now about a dozen foreign companies that have found business offices and manufacturing facilities in the Dan River Region, Stratton said.
“It’s interesting; everything goes in cycles,” Stratton said of the trend for companies to move to overseas locations. “There’s a big international footprint here. It is quite impressive.”
The company’s president, Kevin Liao, said he was pleased with the location and the relationship built with local governments.
“We have a very good relationship with Pittsylvania County and Danville, which is important for us in reading a decision to make our first investment in the United States,” Liao said in a statement. “The plant’s location is only an hour and fifteen minutes from the vast furniture markets of High Point [N.C.]”
Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders, who also chairs RIFA, said he feels GOK is a first-class company.
“I am delighted that we can accommodate both their headquarters and assembly space in the city of Danville and Pittsylvania County, which demonstrates the importance of working together as a team under the auspices of RIFA.”
Tim Barber, chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors, also welcomed GOK to the region.
“We are excited to have a Chinese company agree to create new jobs and invest several million dollars in the region,” Barber said. “The assembly jobs are much needed and will help re-employ our workforce.”