Fluoropolymers maker Daikin America Inc. will spend $195 million to expand its production site in Decatur, Ala.
Daikin America — a unit of Japanese conglomerate Daikin Industries — announced the moves Sept. 12 at a community celebration to commemorate the firm's 25th anniversary in Decatur.
In a news release, Daikin officials said that the expansion will create 50 new jobs and will include polymer production capability, associated monomer production, utility systems, infrastructure enhancements and R&D capabilities. Construction will begin in January.
Plant manager and Executive Vice President David Hendrixson said in the release that the Decatur facility was chosen over Daikin production locations in Japan and China for the polymer expansion project.
Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield added that, as one of the first Japanese companies to establish a presence in Alabama, Daikin "blazed a trail for many other companies from Japan that have followed its path to find success our state."
Daikin is one of Decatur's largest industrial employers, with around 400 workers, according to a local media report.
Last year, the U.S. government put a 25 percent tariff on fluoropolymer goods from China in place. The tariff affected raw materials needed to make fluoropolymer resins.
In July, executives with Daikin and other fluoropolymer-related firms testified before a government panel, saying that the tariffs would harm their industries. They said that the tariffs would have a "disproportionately adverse" impact on the U.S. industry, weakening its trade surplus with China and possibly pushing investment offshore.
The U.S. wanted to slap tariffs on a broad range of Chinese imports as part of a strategy to force Beijing to crack down on what Washington said are intellectual property violations, forced technology transfer and other unfair business practices.
Daikin officials said at the time that the firm was importing a fluoropolymer melt resin for the data communications market from its Chinese resin plant before it was compounded at a Daikin plant in Massachusetts.
Gary Stantis, business development vice president, said at the hearing that the firm wanted to move production of that resin to Decatur, but the plant is at full capacity and would require new investment.
To make that investment, Stantis said that Daikin first needed to build up U.S. market share for the material, and that doing so would be harder if the imported resin faced a 25 percent tariff.