Billed last fall as the first Chinese company to manufacture clothing in the United States, Suzhou Tianyuan Garments Co. will put its operations on Fourche Dam Pike in Little Rock, AK.
The company’s subsidiary, Ty Garments USA, purchased a 101,000-square-foot building at 8909 Fourche Dam Pike for $1.85 million, the real estate company for the seller announced Wednesday.
The seller, Joseph T. Ryerson and Son Inc., operates out of two other nearby buildings, where it processes metals into parts for transportation, mining, construction and other industries.
Arkansas officials, including Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and Tianyuan executives announced the company’s plans last fall to hire 400 full-time employees at average wages of $14 an hour and to invest $20 million to buy and equip a building and make other improvements. A timeline on construction, hiring and the start of operations wasn’t immediately available.
The company produces clothing for Adidas, Reebok and Armani at five factories in China, but Adidas will be the company’s main client in Little Rock.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce steered the company to Little Rock and the port on the Arkansas River, Bryan Day, executive director of the Little Rock Port Authority, said Wednesday.
“It will be a big jobs producer,” Day said. “We’re excited to have them. Garment manufacturing is a kind of new thing for Little Rock. It’s a good investment by the Chinese and a great opportunity for the port and for Little Rock.”
The state has agreed to more than $2.7 million in various incentives, and Little Rock and Pulaski County have agreed not to charge the company up to 65 percent of its property-tax obligations, according to an agreement signed at the time by state officials and Tianyuan’s president. The state incentives remain the same, said Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
The announcement by Tianyuan followed that of another Chinese company, Shandong Sun Paper, to build a $1 billion pulp mill near Arkadelphia.
The state lost dozens of shoe manufacturers and other garment makers — and thousands of jobs — throughout the 1980s because of lower wages paid overseas. The losses continued, according to Census Bureau numbers. Some 10,000 Arkansans worked in textiles and clothing manufacturing in 1998; only 4,000 were doing so in 2004 and just 2,000 were a decade later, according to Census Bureau figures.