Kuraray's Arrival Highlights Region's FDI Appeal

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Last summer’s acquisitionbyJapan’s Kuraray Co., Ltd., of DuPont's glass laminating solutions and vinyls business in Bladen County is evidence that the Southeast Region continues to draw a handsome share of foreign direct investment (FDI).

Kuraray Co. Ltd., a Tokyo-based chemical manufacturer founded in 1926, assumed ownership of the laminated glass business operation at DuPont’s “Fayetteville Works” – off Highway 87 about 15 miles south of Fayetteville – as part of a $543 million acquisition that includes production facilities in Delaware and West Virginia.

The operations, which employ about 100 engineers and technicians in Bladen County, were previously part of DuPont’s Packaging and Industrial Polymers Division. The products are ingredients for safety glass and have applications in construction, automotive and other industries. Kuraray America, Inc., the Houston-based U.S.divisionof Kuraray Co., will run the locations and plans to retain existing workers. Dupont will continue to employ about 335 other workers at its Fayetteville Works engaged in unrelated operations.

“As the global economy matures, our region’s competitive position is growing stronger,” says Steve Yost, president and CEO of The Southeastern Partnership. A survey conducted by the organization of foreign-owned companies in the region two years ago identified nine firms from Japan – 14% of the total and more than any other foreign nation. “Japanese companies discovered the Southeast early on, and their leadership in automotive components, advanced textiles, aerospace and chemical manufacturing has been a strong fit for the region,” Yost says.

The PortatWilmington, a manufacturing-savvy workforce and competitive operating costs are at the heart of the Southeast Region’s appeal to global companies, the survey found.

Nationally, Japan is the second largest source of FDI in the United States, accounting for $309.3 billion in investment in 2012. Only United Kingdom-based firms invested more. While fast-developing countries like China and Brazil are increasing FDI outflows significantly, mature economies such as those in Japan and Europe remain important sources of investment dollars, as growth-minded businesses there seek access to new markets and lower operating costs.