CHINA GROVE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A major development that would have brought a $258 million investment to China Grove, is no longer happening.

It was dubbed “Project Puma.” The mystery company, which was interested in the old Hitachi Metals property off Interstate 85 and N.C.152, would have created 352 new jobs.

While China Grove Mayor Charles Seaford says he still does not know the company’s name, he knows it was a large, publicly traded Japanese company that would have used the space to manufacture parts for electric vehicles.

“I wish we were having this interview saying they’re coming and we’re having a groundbreaking or a ribbon cutting for them, but we’re not,” said Seaford.

Seaford says he and local leaders were confident that it would pick China Grove’s Hitachi plant out of the three or four locations Project Puma was considering due to its prime location. Hitachi filed a WARN notice in July 2022, notifying the state that it was permanently closing its doors and would be laying off its 81 employees.

Seaford also said the Rowan County Economic Development Council had walked the company around the property three times and had already held meetings with local utility companies about appropriately outfitting the space.

“I was excited that Project Puma came when it did because it gave us encouragement that we were only going to be down just a few months before we would have a tenant in that property,” he said. “It’s prime. It’s waiting to be picked by somebody, and I just feel confident that somebody else is going to come along, is going to want it, and it’s going to be just as good as what Project Puma was.”

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Town leaders have not given a reason why the project went in a different direction.