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MAULDIN, S.C. - Hitachi Ltd. plans to open a $150 million manufacturing plant in Greenville County that developers hope will be the magnet that lures additional Japanese investment to South Carolina.

``Once you land several big-name companies, it's a lot easier to get more big-name companies,' said Frank Newman Jr., associate director of the S.C. State Development Board. ``It's always easier to get the second one than it is the first one.'Hitachi will build a 522,000-square-foot plant in this Greenville County city to manufacture color television picture tubes. The plant will eventually employ up to 700 workers, company officials said.

Hitachi considered 30 sites for the new plant in Eastern and Southeastern states, but the Triad was not on the list, said Osamu Naito, a spokesman for Hitachi America's headquarters in Purchase, N.Y.

Naito said Hitachi narrowed its list to four states - Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina. It chose the latter state because of its convenience to suppliers and interstate highways, Naito said. Hitachi already has a similar plant in Anaheim, Calif.

Hitachi's investment is the largest by a Japanese company in South Carolina.

In 1989, Japanese film giant Fuji Photo Film Inc., began work on a $63 million, 150-employee plant in Greenwood. Nicca Chemical Ltd. announced plans for a $10 million plant in Laurens that will eventually employ 200, and another Japanese conglomerate, Nippondenso Co. Ltd., last year agreed to a $60 million joint venture with an Anderson company.

``There is certainly that enclave effect - the more we get, the more we'll get,' said Jeffrey Arpan, director of the University of South Carolina's International Business Program. ``And this state is finally getting better known among the Japanese.'

South Carolina ranks fifth among seven Southeastern states in Japanese investment, according to the office of the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta.

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