Alameda County elected officials and business leaders met with a Chinese contingent this week to explore options involving the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont.
The high-ranking delegation from China included political officials, planners and business heads, and were looking at potential new manufacturing operations for the plant if Toyota leaves — which it is expected to next March.
"When the delegation left, they did say they looked forward to continued dialogue concerning the facility," said Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson.
Carson declined to divulge specifics about the talks which occurred Tuesday, but said conversations with this group had been going on for months and the meeting had been set up for two weeks. Carson described the talks as substantive and in-depth, however, he cautioned nothing is imminent.
Carson, who chairs the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, added that some of the Chinese business leaders represented industries that could use the current NUMMI facility in some capacity.
The nine-member Chinese delegation only had a short amount of time with elected county officials, because county supervisors were in the middle of a hearing to appoint a new district attorney to replace Tom Orloff, who suddenly announced his retirement last week.
"That was unfortunate timing, it really was, but there was nothing we could do," Carson said.
The meeting is the latest attempt by county officials and business people to save the plant or place a new business in the facility. In July, the county announced it had helped create a "red team" of local and state officials to prepare a proposal to retain NUMMI and had appointed Jon Kaji, former California trade representative to Japan, to assist with those efforts.
Carson said while those efforts were going on, the county and others started conversations with various foreign groups to gauge interest in keeping the plant alive in some form while creating jobs.
NUMMI is a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota, but rumors of its closure have swirled since the beginning of this year. Finally in June, GM announced it was ending its partnership in the plant. Toyota then announced last month it will not order any vehicles from the auto plant after next March.
The plant, which currently is producing Toyota vehicles, employs roughly 4,700 workers.