Canon Inc. wants to develop and manufacture products in the United States, possibly in New York State, executives said Friday.
Fujio Mitarai, chief executive of the photography and copier giant, said he wants to "transform" the company's Melville-based Americas division "from a sales company into a manufacturer."
The Americas unit, called Canon U.S.A., recently developed the Cinema EOS movie camera, but Mitarai said most of Canon's "new business and new products are still created only in Japan. For Canon U.S.A., however, this will change."
The company Friday officially opened its 668,296-square-foot headquarters for the Americas at 1 Canon Park, near Exit 49 of the Long Island Expressway. It has similar offices in Tokyo and London; the Melville facility replaces one in Lake Success.
The local complex, costing $500 million, was 25 years in the making. Executives said they considered leaving Long Island for New Jersey or Connecticut but stayed because most employees did not want to relocate.
Canon received about $100 million in government aid, including tax breaks from New York State and Suffolk County, and an extra lane on each of the expressway service roads. Former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, a Republican, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) were pivotal in removing roadblocks to the project's completion.
"A few years ago, this was just a pumpkin farm," said Schumer. "Now, 1,800 people are employed here."
Speaking to about 300 people at the grand-opening ceremony, Canon U.S.A. chief executive Joe Adachi said he had been directed by bosses in Japan to establish research and development and manufacturing facilities in the United States, "hopefully in New York."
Kenneth Adams, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's economic development czar, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone each clapped heartily.
Gesturing to the trio, Adachi added, "but at this moment I cannot guarantee anything."
Canon applied Thursday for a top U.S. environmental designation for the Melville office, which includes woodlands, two ponds and charging stations for electric vehicles.
Seymour Liebman, the company's point man for more than 25 years on the office project, said, "this building is the product of many, many years of hard work . . . This is a milestone."