The highest-ranking representatives of both companies came to the Czech Republic for the production launch, including Etsuhiko Shoyama, chairman of the board of directors of Hitachi Ltd. Cutting the ribbon on the Czech side was Minister of Agriculture Petr Gandalovič, Ústí Regional Governor Jiří Šulc, CzechInvest CEO Roman Čermák and other representatives of a range of municipalities in the Ústí region.
“Ústí is among the regions that have long suffered from high unemployment. The Japanese companies are investing in modern technology and are helping to diversify local industry, which has traditionally be heavily dependant on chemicals and heavy industry, for example,” explains Roman Čermák, CEO of CzechInvest. “Furthermore, the representatives of IPS Alpha and Hitachi have decided to invest in the former military airfield in Žatec. This abandoned brownfield, which has hitherto been mainly an ecological burden on its surroundings, will thus provide jobs for several thousand people.”
“Together, the two companies will employ over 4,000 workers. At this time, they employ 1,200 people, most of whom are Czechs,” adds Roman Čermák.
IPS Alpha plans to invest nearly CZK 3 billion in the Czech Republic, and the company’s management expects to create 2,100 new jobs by 2013. The Žatec factory is the company’s first production facility outside Japan. Trial production commence at the beginning of May 2007. Currently, 1,100 people work at the plant; by the end of November this number should rise to 1,530. Hitachi wants to invest CZK 1.73 billion in Žatec and will employ up to 1,400 workers when in full operation. Trial production at the Hitachi plant started in June this year. Three hundred people currently work there and recruitment of new employees is ongoing.
Representatives of both companies are meeting today with Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek in order to present their future strategy in the Czech Republic and will probably discuss the possibility of Czech-Japanese cooperation in the area of science and research. Etsuhiko Shoyama, who is heading the delegation, is a member of several Japanese government committees for the support of science and technology.
Hitachi earlier cooperated on the preparation of, and actively participated in, the first three Czech-Japan Days of Science and Technology events, which have been held annually since 2005 alternately in Japan and the Czech Republic. The next such event is planned for May 2008 in Prague and will again be held under the auspices of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic.
“Both companies have thus joined the ranks of the numerous Japanese firms doing business in the Czech Republic. Currently, 196 Japanese companies are operating here, 76 of which are engaged in production, three in research and development, and 117 in trade, transport or other services. In total, Japanese companies are investing nearly 70 billion crowns in the Czech Republic and employ over 38,000 people here,” adds Josef Lébl, adviser to CzechInvest’s CEO and specialist in Japanese investment.