Hefei Risever Machinery Co., Arkansas' 5th Chinese-headquartered company, broke ground on Friday, in the Northeast corner of the state.
The ceremony took place at their new location—behind FMH Conveyors at the Craighead Technology Park in East Jonesboro. Risever makes fabrication parts for various manufacturers, such as Caterpillar and Volvo. Back in 2017, Risever announced their plans to build their first North American plant in Jonesboro.
Mark Young is the CEO of Jonesboro Unlimited, a private partnership organization that works to bring economic opportunities to the area. Young also has been credited with getting Risever to settle here.
“Having an industrial park like we have at Craighead Technology Park that has all infrastructure in place is extremely important," said Young. "We have a great workforce in our community, and that’s extremely important as well. And then, when you look at Arkansas State University and the utility system that we have with City, Water and Light—all of those factors, and others, work together to really allow us to compete successfully for this project.”
Jonesboro Unlimited Chairman Chris Barber agrees with Young. He said the community pretty much sells itself.
“We get folks here to see what kind of environment they’d be living in," said Barber. "Good schools, low cost of living, etc. And, businesses have not only come here but survived and thrived in a marketplace with additional expansion. I think that’s a true testament of the prosperous nature of this community and the forward-thinking individuals that have been leading this.”
All of Risever’s plants are located in China. When the company wanted to break into the North American market, they searched 70 different locations before deciding to build in Jonesboro.
Mike Preston is the Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Preston told reporters that winning the bid for an international company to build in a certain location—is very competitive.
“For [Risever] to look at all of North America and say ‘you know what, the best place that I can go is Jonesboro, Arkansas’, that says a lot about this community, it says a lot about this state and the vote of confidence that they have," Preston said. "And, really, it’s a testament to our workforce. That they believe so much in our workforce that they would want to come here, build this facility--their first venture into the United States. It’s tremendously exciting for this community.”
As stated before, this is Arkansas’ fifth Chinese-headquartered company to operate in Arkansas—the second company in Northeast Arkansas.
Shandong Ruyi Technology will bring 800 jobs to Forrest City in St. Francis County. Clark County, Little Rock, and Danville are also getting Chinese companies.
However, with Risever choosing to build their first North American plant in Northeast Arkansas, Preston said he sees economic growth in this area’s future.
“It means more jobs," said Preston, "it means more economic impact, it means that they’re going to supply great companies like Caterpillar… We hope to see more projects; more jobs in this area and to continue to build on this momentum.”
Risever is investing $20 million into the plant, which will generate 130 new jobs. Phase one of construction is set to be completed in July 2019.