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Japanese manufacturing base growing in Battle Creek

Governor Rick Snyder (third from the left) joins local elected officials and Japanese business executives in cutting the ceremonial ribbon dedicating the new Toda America facility in Battle Creek

A Japanese company that makes a key component for lithium batteries formally opened its new manufacturing plant in Battle Creek today.  It’s just the latest Japanese firm to set up shop in Battle Creek. 

Local dignitaries joined Japanese business executives in cutting a ribbon outside Toda America’s new facility in Battle Creek.  Toda America is a consortium of Japanese companies. 

Tetsuo Ozaki is the president of Toda America.   He says the company plans to expand its operations in Michigan, as the electric car industry in the United States grows.  

“Toda America is very fortunate…we are able to have this opportunity of working closely with global institutions …who are looking to succeed in their lithium battery business in the U.S.”

 Toda is one of 17 Japanese manufacturers with facilities in Battle Creek.

Karl Dehn is the president of Battle Creek Unlimited.   He says the city has  been very successful in attracting Japanese investment. 

“The 17 companies that are here represented over two and half billion dollars of private investment that have taken place since our first Japanese investment in 1978.”

The Japanese Consulate General in Detroit predicts there will be more Japanese companies looking to build manufacturing facilities in the U.S.    He says recent disasters have exposed problems with Japan’s domestic manufacturing base.  

The Toda America plant is being partially funded by a 35 million dollar federal grant. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.