Risever breaks ground on $20 million Jonesboro plant

by George Jared ([email protected]) 3,729 views 

Rendering of the Riserver manufacturing plant in Jonesboro.

Hefei Risever Machinery (Risever), a Chinese-based heavy equipment parts manufacturer broke ground on a $20 million facility in Jonesboro on Friday (June 15).

The plant will be located in the Craighead Technology Park on C.W. Post Road and will employ 130 workers. Risever General Manager Yonggang Lai told Talk Business & Politics the decision to build the plant in Jonesboro was based on a number of factors, including Arkansas State University, labor costs, logistics, closeness to customers, and the proximity of rail lines and highway access from the plant site were among the top considerations.

“It has taken six months to kick off this project after we announced our plans to invest in Jonesboro last year. In the six months, Risever has been working with our partners, Jonesboro Unlimited, City Water and Light, A2H Design Company, and Forcum Lannom Contractors. We had very effective communication and excellent cooperation. In the process, we were also very lucky to have the consistent support from the governor and the mayor and the AEDC,” he said. “I think it is Arkansas’ and Jonesboro’s friendly business environment and efficient services that contributed to the smooth progress for this groundbreaking ceremony. I would like to express my sincere respect and gratitude to all the people who have given such great support to the project.”

President Donald Trump announced billions in new tariffs against China on Friday, and it’s unclear how that could impact Risever, Arkansas Economic Development Commission Director Mike Preston told Talk Business & Politics. It might impact equipment shipped from China into the plant, but the state has received assurances from the Trump administration that this project could receive “carve outs.” or exemptions for its equipment since the project was underway before the tariffs were announced.

Arkansas has developed ties with the Chinese in recent years, and Preston said he and Gov. Asa Hutchinson have worked hard to gain trust in the largest country in the world. There are a number of U.S. states the Asian country is interested in doing business with, and the Natural State is among them, he added.

“It’s all about relationships in China. Arkansas has a very good reputation in China,” he said.

Construction on the 125,000-square-foot plant will begin immediately. The plant should be operational in late spring or early summer 2019, Lai said. It’s the first plant Risever will build in the U.S. The company makes steel machine parts for heavy construction equipment. Counter weights, boom arms for excavators and other earth moving equipment are among the products produced by the company. Its customers include Caterpillar, Volvo, Terex, and Komatsu.

Risever began a “Made in America” project in 2016, he said, and at least 70 communities in five different states were considered before Jonesboro was selected.

Hutchinson offered Risever $1 million – just under $7,700 per new job – from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund to help seal the company’s decision. Preston previously told Talk Business & Politics the money will be used for sewer lines and other costs associated with the construction of the building. Another $100,000 for workforce training was a part of the offer package. Risever will also receive rebates on its payroll taxes based on number of jobs targets, Preston said.

Risever spent 10 months negotiating the deal with AEDC and Jonesboro Unlimited, a private partnership organization that focuses on economic development in Jonesboro. Risever employs 1,175 workers at its three Chinese-based plants, according to the company.