Tuesday October 13th, 2015 3:16AM

Kubota celebrates Jefferson expansion

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
JEFFERSON - Kubota Corporation Monday held the grand opening of its new $73-million manufacturing facility at Kubota Industrial Equipment (KIE) in Jefferson.

Actually the first production tractor rolled off the assembly line last October and by March the plant reached 60 units a day, but the grand opening ceremony got off with a 'booming' start with a performance from a Japanese 'Matsuriza' band.

Featured speaker, Governor Nathan Deal, said he was proud to join Kubota in celebrating one of Georgia's greatest business success stories.

"This is another indication that Georgia's doing something right," the Governor said. "They have now chosen Georgia to be a further manufacturing site for their facility."

The 522,000-square-foot compact farm tractor product plant on its 88-acre site promises to hire 200 workers with 100 working now. The grand opening event was co-sponsored by Kubota Tractor Corporation, the U.S. marketer and distributor of Kubota tractors and equipment.

Kubota began doing business in Georgia approximately 40 years ago, with its first operations located in Norcross. In the mid-1980s, Kubota purchased its first office building in the state at the current Southeast Division headquarters in Suwannee.

Since that time, Kubota has further expanded its operation in Georgia to include Kubota Manufacturing of America (KMA) in Gainesville; it's National Distribution Center (NDC) in Jefferson; and Kubota Industrial Equipment (KIE), also in Jefferson. Today in Georgia, the company employs more than 1,700 people at Kubota facilities and has 43 dealerships that retail and market Kubota-branded products.

"We are committed to making investments that will enable us to grow our business to meet the strong demand for Kubota tractors here in the U.S.," said Mr. Henry Kubota, president of KIE. "Our goal is to efficiently deliver quality products that provide value to our customers and with the expanded capabilities that our new plant will deliver, we can achieve that goal today and into the future."

Added to existing facilities in the state, the recent expansion brings Kubota's total footprint of manufacturing and assembly space in Georgia to 2.1 million square feet. The new facility is located on the same site as the existing KIE property in Jefferson, which currently produces Kubota implements, including loaders and backhoes. Once fully operational, the new facility will add hundreds of new jobs to support the production capacity of 22,000 units annually.

Nobody was more pleased at the grand opening than Jefferson Mayor Jim Joiner, who said his town has a good work force plus tax incentives depending on the number of jobs an industry or business offers, and Kubota offers a lot of jobs.

"When they came in here and created over 700 jobs in this economy, that speaks for itself," Mayor Joiner said. "With people out of work, looking for jobs, just 200 new jobs in this facility right here plus the 500 that were created about six years ago, that's a great shot in the arm for our work force in this area."

The announcement comes on the heels of Kubota's recent 40-year anniversary in the U.S. In 1972. Kubota entered the market with three tractor models.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) partnered with the development authorities of Jefferson and Jackson County and the City of Jefferson to manage the KIE expansion.

"Georgia's 40-year business relationship with Japan has been the foundation of success for Kubota and hundreds of other Japanese companies here," said GDEcD Commissioner Chris Cummiskey. "Our unique package of workforce, location, affordability and global access is very attractive for international companies looking to expand their markets."

The grand opening ceremony began and concluded with more custom and culture. Instead of a ribbon cutting, leading Georgia officials including Governor Deal and Kubota's U.S. and Japanese leaders were invited back on stage for a 'sake barrel' opening in which participants broke open the barrels. It was traditional with one exception. They did not drink the potent Japanese rice wine.
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