WILLIAMSTOWN - Hino Motors in Japan will invest $6 million directly and indirectly into the Williamstown Hino plant.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin made the announced Wednesday during a press conference at the Williamstown plant. Tomblin and other state officials recently returned from a business trip to Japan where they spoke to Hino executives.
"The trade mission was a success," Tomblin said. "Of that $6 million, $3 million will be invested directly in this facility in improvements in machinery and planned improvements here. This new expansion will create at least 20 full-time, good-paying jobs for West Virginians by the end of this year."
Tomblin said since the Hino plant opened five years ago, production has increased from 2-10 trucks a day to 35-37 trucks a day. The new improvements will increase that production potential.
Tomblin called the announcement an endorsement of West Virginia's business climate and workforce.
U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller issued a press release Wednesday praising the announcement. Rockefeller was one of the initial contacts with Hino Motors in Japan in 2001.
"I am thrilled Hino remains so committed to West Virginia," he said. "Hino's $6 million investment in its Williamstown plant and the 20 new jobs that could result, is great news not only for Wood County, but for all of West Virginia. Hino is a world-class company, and I'm happy to have had a hand over the years in bringing them to West Virginia."
Sandy Ring, vice president of administration and strategic planning and general counsel for Hino, said the other $3 million will be used for indirect improvements, including investments with suppliers and other factories that will help the Williamstown Hino plant to be more efficient.
Ring said he expects some of the direct plant improvements will begin as early as July.
"We are shutdown the week of July 4," he said. "We will be making some modest changes to the plant floor. People on the outside won't be able to tell anything is different, but when the workers return to the floor they will be able to see some of the changes that have been made."
Ring said Tomblin's visit to Japan helped cement the company's plans to invest in the Williamstown plant.
Following the announcement, Tomblin promised more results from the trip to Japan.
"Over the next several days we will be able to make more announcements," he said.
After the press conference, Tomblin spoke briefly about his decision to not attend the Democratic National Convention in September. Both Tomblin and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia are two of the automatic unpledged delegates, sometimes called super delegates, in the West Virginia delegation to the convention, but the West Virginia Democratic Party announced this week neither would attend the convention.
"I've never attended the convention," Tomblin said Wednesday. "I have things already scheduled around that time. Labor Day is a busy time of year for me."