Carahaix-Plouguer, a quiet city in the northwestern French region of Brittany, had plunged into an economic impasse for several years. But today, this small city with about 8,000 inhabitants has been boosted by Synutra, a baby milk factory with investment from China.
The Synutra dairy group, based in China, invested more than 200 million euros (237 million U.S. dollars) in the Synutra factory in Carahaix, which now has around 350 employees.
Since the investment in September 2016, the plant processes hundreds of tons of fresh milk daily for powdered infant formula to export to China.
Apart from roughly 10 Chinese employees including interpreters, the production site is entirely French. Several locals were also provided training and jobs with Synutra.
"This plant really plays a role in driving local development," according to Patrick Bischofberger, director of the plant. Through the production chain effect, "four times of the number of employees, 1,400 people can benefit from Synutra's activities. In addition, 800 milk producers benefit from our presence," he said.
The factory has cleared initial fears of foreign investment and "today, Synutra organizes open door meetings, inviting schools, politicians to visit our factory," said Bischofberger.
Synutra's spillover effects are confirmed by transport service companies, florists, and cleaners in Carhaix. Stephane Jacquel, co-manager of a local cleaning company, told Xinhua that a fifth of his company's business comes from Synutra.
The dynamism brought by Synutra is "colossal" for Carhaix, said local mayor Christian Troadec.
"The benefits of the presence of Synutra are visible. Since the construction of the factory in 2014, hundreds of workers worked daily on the site, providing economic opportunities for restaurants, hotels and shops in Carhaix," he said.
Troadec called Synutra "a development asset" of Carhaix, not only because of its economic benefits, but also the effect of its arrival example.
"The establishment of Synutra also fosters Carhaix pride, because we can see that Carhaix is able to host international companies, and that's very important. Today it's a Chinese dairy company; tomorrow, maybe, another company will come," said the mayor.
Seen from this angle, Synutra brought not only dynamism, but also hope to the city.