Mississippi gets Chinese investment
Updated: 2015-07-21 11:40
By Paul Welitzkin in New York(China Daily USA)
Seraphim Solar Manufacturing USA Inc plans to invest $50 million to open its first American factory in the Jackson, Mississippi, area.
China-based Seraphim said it will construct a solar module assembly plant that is expected to create 250 jobs during the first five years of operation.
"We are extremely excited about successfully recruiting Seraphim Solar to our city," Jackson Mayor Tony T. Yarber said in a statement. "We're partnering with a company that will provide innovative solutions that will lead and model how the country consumes energy."
Jason Goree, director of economic development for Jackson, said the Seraphim facility will open a new channel of economic development for the area. "This is our first project with a Chinese company and of course we hope to get more. We also hope to eventually tap into the EB-5 program as well," he said in an interview.
The EB-5 program grants a foreign investor a US visa after making a $1 million investment in an ongoing project or new business that creates at least 10 new and permanent jobs for Americans. Residents from China now account for more than 80 percent of the EB-5 visas issued, compared to just 13 percent a decade ago, according to the US State Department.
The plant will be located on Jackson's Lawson Street and "represents the redevelopment of an underused property and will provide much-needed road and rail improvements for the area," the city said in a statement.
Yarber said the Mississippi Development Authority played a role in helping to recruit Seraphim by contributing to the necessary road work for the plant.
Seraphim anticipates it will complete the first phase of the project by the end of the year with a second phase to follow in 2016.
Jackson is the capital and the largest city in Mississippi. Lina Lynn came to Jackson from China 25 years ago and currently operates a restaurant in the city.
"We have about 2,000 Chinese people in the Jackson area," Lynn said in an interview. "I believe the Chinese community is very excited about the plant and they will be working hard to help the company become a part of the community."
Lynn said most of the Chinese are teachers, students and business owners. "The Chinese have been in Mississippi for over 100 years," she said. "They first came to the Delta Greenwood area to work on the railroad."
Earlier this year the city of Jackson and the Chinese community partnered to produce a Chinese New Year's celebration for the first time.
"We had a parade, a lion's dance and other events to introduce our culture to the area," said Lynn.