September 29, 2000

Lila White
(804) 692-3110

Peter Argue
Somic Ishikawa
(207) 989-1759
Jill Lawrence
(804) 371-0049
Governor Gilmore Announces New Location of Japanese Company
-- Somic Ishikawa to locate in Wythe County - -

Richmond - Governor Jim Gilmore today announced that Somic Ishikawa, a Japan-based company, will locate an automotive-parts manufacturing facility in Wythe County. The company will invest $5.3 million while hiring 25 skilled workers within 30 months. Virginia successfully competed with Tennessee and Maine for this investment.

The Governor's announcement coincides with the 25th Southeast-U.S. Japan Annual Joint Meeting in Norfolk. Six southern governors and over 600 Japanese and U.S. delegates are participating in the event which promotes trade, investment and technology.

"As the first project in the new Wythe County Progress Park, this decision serves as a catalyst for future development, particularly in the automotive industry sector," said Governor Gilmore. "The company brings international investment to Southwest Virginia and will significantly contribute to the employment opportunities for skilled workers in the region."

Somic Ishikawa is a Japanese manufacturer of precision-machined components for the automotive suspension and steering market. It is a leading ball joint manufacturer for steering and suspension systems in passenger cars, trucks, recreational, industrial, agricultural, and small outdoor vehicles. The company supplies nearly all of Japan's vehicle manufactures, with Toyota Motor Corporation accounting for the majority of sales. In addition to the main base of operations in Japan, it has facilities in China, India, Thailand, and the State of Maine. The Wythe County facility will manufacture precision- machined components and support the company's business operations in the North American market.

"Virginia was chosen for this facility because of the State's strong pro-business attitude, the people's work ethic, and the friendliness and cooperation shown to us by the people of Virginia, especially in the Wythe County area," said Somic Ishikawa President Mr. Kozo Ishikawa.

"This is an important project for Wythe County in that it displays a working joint relationship with Bland County and the Town of Wytheville," Secretary of Commerce and Trade Barry E. DuVal said. "The two counties and the town have formed a regional economic development entity and this project proves that they are committed to working together toward mutual goals and objectives."

Governor Gilmore approved a $75,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to assist the Crossroads Regional Industrial Facility Authority with site preparation. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Bland County, Wythe County and the Town of Wytheville assisted Somic Ishikawa with its decision. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide workforce training services and the Virginia Department of Transportation assisted in initial road improvements.

Japanese companies have invested almost $5 billion in the Commonwealth while employing more than 12,000 Virginians. Approximately 97 companies with Japanese affiliations are located in Virginia.


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