Hitachi breaks ground on $15M expansion project

Published: Monday, January 25, 2010 7:00 am By: Tom Lindley

The Journal Record

NORMAN - Gov. Brad Henry was happy to report that, for a change, bad news and the wind aren't all that is sweeping down the plains these days.

Henry joined with Norman and Cleveland County economic officials Monday to help Hitachi Computer Products of America Inc. break ground on a $15 million, 200,000-square-foot expansion project that will accommodate manufacturing and configuration-to-order operations for both its North and South American customer bases.

Hitachi's renewed commitment to Norman and Oklahoma came on the heels of its decision to establish a new distribution center in Singapore, which it said drove a need to consolidate its U.S. operations. Until now, a facility in Indianapolis, Ind., has been the base for its Americas and Asia distribution activity.

"This is an exciting day, not just for Norman but for the state of Oklahoma, even with all the challenges we have with the budget at a state level and the economy in this country and across the globe, good things are happening right here in Oklahoma," Henry said.

The plant expansion is expected to be completed in October and could add as many as 75 jobs on top of the 300 now employed at Hitachi's longtime base for U.S. manufacturing for its data storage products.

But the more than 100 invited guests and Hitachi employees who gathered outside were not just there to prove they could go toe-to-toe with a cold, hard January wind.

If anything, the wind and feel of the open prairie were reminders that Hitachi and Oklahoma share a certain pioneer spirit, Henry said.

Yoshinori Okami, vice president and chief strategy officer for Hitachi Data Systems, said the innovation, initiative and partnership that have been Hitachi's driving principles for 100 years also were what attracted the company to Oklahoma 24 years ago.

More specifically, he said Hitachi's decision to consolidate its Americas supply chain operation in Norman was a direct result of the leadership of the Norman Economic Development Coalition and the support of the Oklahoma Economic Development Pooled Finance Program, which was put in place by the state Legislature last year.

The decision to expand the Norman facility involved a six-month negotiating process.

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