ATLANTA --- The chief executive officer of Portuguese electronics manufacturer EFACEC said Monday that the state's eagerness clinched his company's decision to build a $100 million plant in Rincon, Ga., that could eventually employ 600 people.
Luis Filipe Pereira made the comments after a Capitol ceremony formally announcing the company's plans to assemble power substations.
"It was important to have incentives from the state," he said. "We have worked very hard negotiating with the state. This is a very big venture for us."
Three factors led the company to construct its first plant in the United States: a pool of existing U.S. customers, lower production costs than Europe and the weakened dollar, which makes American-made products cheaper.
After deciding to have a plant in the U.S., the company considered sites in 10 states before settling on the Savannah area. Access to a major port was important, as was worker training that the state agreed to provide, Mr. Pereira said.
Training is critical because few workers anywhere have most of the skills needed in assembling power substations, especially since 90 percent of the technology EFACEC uses comes from its own research. The U.S. engineers it hires for the Rincon plant will spend some time in the company's headquarters in Porto, Portugal, for in-depth instruction.
Most of the workers doing actual fabrication and assembly, though, will be trained in the state's Quickstart program taught at technical colleges.
The state and local governments are providing other financial incentives, such as a $3 million OneGeorgia EDGE grant and a tax credit of $2,500 for each port-related job the company creates, which would total $1.5 million if it eventually hires 600 people as it projects.
Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, compared the effort required to convince EFACEC to what was involved in persuading JCB Excavators LTD to build its first U.S. plant in Pooler. He predicted the cooperation between local and state officials in winning the two industrial prospects would continue on luring other factories.
"The sense that I get is that this is going to be the beginning of a long string of companies," he said.
He's probably right, according to Ken Stewart, Georgia's economic-development commissioner. Winning the first company from a given country is often the toughest job because executives tend to want to locate near their fellow countrymen.
"The cluster effect with industrial development is alive and well," Mr. Stewart said.
At Monday's ceremony, Gov. Sonny Perdue predicted Southern hospitality would turn EFACEC executives into ambassadors for Georgia who would fuel the clustering phenomenon.
"Our goal is to make you even more proud of this decision five years from now than you are today," he said.