Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Top officials of Japanese firm speak at grand opening of American Howa Kentucky auto-parts plant

Tatsuro Ito, president of Howa Textile Industry Ltd., spoke at today's grand opening of the American Howa Kentucky auto-parts plant in Midway Station, which has been operating for several months. "We hope this plant will become a role-model plant among our American facilities," Ito said, after noting that the Japanese company has 36 plants in 13 countries.

American Howa Kentucky President Mizuhiro Toki said "AHK is committed to being a good neighbor and building strong relationships in the community." He expressed thanks to "the people of Woodford County for welcoming us into the community."

The plant is building headliners, the inside roof covering, for automobiles produced at the Toyota plant in Georgetown. It has about 70 workers now and will have 83 by August, plant manager Chris Fortino (at far left in photo) said in an interview. He said he lives in Frankfort, is a native of Cleveland, and has worked for Howa for 11 years and at all the company's U.S. facilities.

Lindsey Ransdell of the state Economic Development Cabinet (seated next to the lectern) told the crowd, "Our automotive industry is what really drives our state," and said 100,000 Kentuckians work for foreign-owned businesses. She said AHK's decision to locate in Midway Station spurred more growth, alluding to the larger Lakeshore Learning Materials distribution center that is under construction next door.

The company's name is pronounced "Ho-wa" and it has a plant in Bowling Green. Here's a 14-second video of the ribbon-cutting, which was followed by a reception and tours of the plant:

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