Chinese investment in the southern Indiana city is miniscule so far compared to the factories built there by forklift manufacturer Toyota Industries Corp. and other Japanese companies.
But the Columbus startup that's spearheading the new push, LHP Technologies, just landed its second Chinese joint venture, and plans more of the agreements.
LHP Technologies was launched in January last year by Ryan Hou, who is CEO of LHP Software LLC, a Columbus firm focusing on applications for the military and the automotive industry, among others.
The president of LHP Technologies is Brooke Tuttle, formerly a Cummins Inc. executive and president of the city's Economic Development Board.
Tuttle played a key role in luring Japanese companies that created thousands of jobs. Those jobs helped stabilize Columbus while Arvin Industries, a large auto parts maker, was acquired, and local diesel engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. struggled before returning to prosperity in the past few years.
Now Tuttle has turned his attention to building LHP Technologies into a force to help Chinese companies form joint ventures as they look to invest in the United States.
"Columbus is light years ahead of any other community on attracting Chinese investment," Tuttle said during yesterday's announcement. "This will pay dividends in the future in much the same way as Columbus profited by the Japanese wave of investment in the 1980s."
Yesterday, LHP announced a joint venture with a Chinese company that makes electric motors, pumps and generators. The joint venture, Techtop LHP Inc., includes LHP and Atlanta-based Techtop Industries Inc., which is majority owned by Shanghai Top Motors Co. Inc.
Techtop LHP initially will distribute the motors and pumps, then add manufacturing to the operation it will establish in Columbus.
In November, LHP created a joint venture with Yinlun USA that's called LHP Yin Chang.
Yinlun is owned by Yinlun Machinery Co. Ltd., a maker of oil coolers and other heat exchangers, and Dongfeng Motor Industry Import and Export Co. Ltd. Dongfeng is Cummins' joint venture partner in China for making engines.
LHP Yin Chang will help Cummins work with Chinese suppliers and help other Chinese companies look for joint venture opportunities in the U.S.