President Trump’s visit to China in November builds on decades of U.S.-China ties that include a range of economic, scientific and cultural initiatives. One example of this partnership is the impending arrival of a Chinese textile plant in Forrest City, Arkansas.

Maps of continental U.S. and Arkansas, with Forrest City marked (State Dept./S. Gemeny Wilkinson)
(State Dept./S. Gemeny Wilkinson)

The Chinese industrial giant Shandong Ruyi Technology Group (Ruyi) recently announced plans to open its first North American factory in Forrest City, where Arkansas cotton will be spun into yarn for textile use.

The new factory will create 800 jobs, and Ruyi will invest $410 million to renovate a former Sanyo manufacturing center in Forrest City.

Mike Preston, director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, says Ruyi’s decision to come to Forrest City meant “the largest single job-creation announcement in the history of the Arkansas Delta” region.

“The economic impact this will have in the region is tremendous,” he added.

In addition to creating jobs, “the company is moving into a facility that had been vacant for a decade, and the company plans to process more than 200,000 tons of Arkansas cotton each year, creating additional opportunities for our state’s cotton industry,” said Preston.

Arkansas is the fifth-largest cotton producer among all U.S. states. Ruyi is expected to absorb almost all the cotton produced by Arkansas annually, a likely employment boost for workers who bale and transport the crop, too.

Forrest City’s East Arkansas Community College will help train new factory hires, so Ruyi will have an initial startup workforce as well as a long-term pipeline of skilled workers, said Kay Brockwell, the city’s economic development consultant.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson welcomed Ruyi’s Forrest City project not only for the “significant impact on Arkansas’ cotton farmers” but also for the signal it sends about doing business in his state.

“Our business missions to China, along with ongoing work to build relationships with the country’s business leaders, have now resulted in three companies from China’s Shandong Province announcing plans to locate operations in Arkansas,” said Hutchinson. “From Sun Paper to Pet Won Pet Products to Ruyi, we have established the state as a leader in foreign direct investment from Asia.”

Ruyi’s chairman, Yafu Qiu, hailed his company’s connection to Arkansas.

“Ruyi Group, as the largest textile manufacturer in China, has been expanding globally,” said Qiu. “Our manufacturing facility in Arkansas will become the first milestone of Ruyi’s steps into the United States. We are dedicated to [providing] the product with cutting-edge technology and superior quality.”

The textile giant is slated to open its Forrest City operations in mid-2018.

Voice of America contributed to this article.