By Ken Elkins, Senior Staff Writer
RATO North America will hire as many as 600 employees in Lincoln County
(North Carolina) as it sets up a temporary
manufacturing facility to bring its engines, all-terrain vehicles and other
products to U.S.
The company, a subsidiary of Chongqing RATO Power Co. Ltd. of
China, announced last week that
it will establish its U.S.
headquarters in eastern Lincoln
County, bringing 40
executive-level jobs, as it searches for a site for a large manufacturing,
distribution and research and development center.
That larger facility could eventually employ 1,000 workers,
Liedong, chairman of Chongqing RATO.
N.C. Gov. Bev
Perdue says she welcomes the jobs and prestige the Chinese company
brings to the Charlotte
"RATO wants to become a brand that all of us in America
values," she said during an invitation-only event at Verdict Ridge Country
Perdue, who has visited China
twice during her term as governor, threw a few words of Chinese into the conversation
Liedong, chairman of Chongqing RATO Power Co. Ltd. of south-central China.
"We believe today marks the first day of a long journey
together," Zhu said, speaking through a translator.
RATO bought Denver Global Products Inc. of Lincoln County's
community in a deal that closed Jan. 1. The transaction was reportedly valued
at $70 million and resulted in Denver Global President Roger
Leon being named vice chairman of the RATO board of directors in China.
RATO is looking in the Carolinas and Georgia for a permanent 450,000-square-foot
distribution and research center to bring its engines, and perhaps its
motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, to consumers in the U.S.
Lincoln County is still in competition with sites in South Carolina for the
larger project, Lincoln Economic Development Association officials
the new Airlie park along N.C. Highway 16 and a newer park called Teardrop are
being proposed for the RATO facility.
The smaller, temporary manufacturing center will begin
operating as soon as this fall. A site for that facility hasn't been selected, but
Leon believes it will be in
eastern Lincoln County.