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Tire Producer Invests $1.2 Billion in South Carolina Facilities

Bridgestone Americas, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, will invest a total of $1.2 billion for the construction of a 1.5 million-square-foot off-road radial tire (ORR) manufacturing facility and a 474,000-square-foot expansion of their existing passenger (PSR) and light truck (LTR) tire plant in Aiken County. When fully completed, the projects will increase the company’s employment by 850 full-time and contractor positions.

Bridgestone Corporation is the world’s largest tire and rubber company. Bridgestone Americas and its subsidiaries develop, manufacture and market a wide range of Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires.

“The announcement of this greenfield off-road radial tire plant is a major strategic investment by the global Bridgestone Group to enhance its supply systems, improve its sourcing flexibility and further strengthen the Bridgestone Group’s position as the global leader in the off-road radial tire segment,” said Gary Garfield, Vice President and Senior Officer, Bridgestone Corporation, and CEO and President, Bridgestone Americas.

The new ORR manufacturing facility will be located at a greenfield site in the Sage Mill Industrial Park. Large and ultra-large ORR tires had previously been produced exclusively at the company’s Shimonoseki and Kitakyushu plants in Japan.

THe company will install ORR production technologies developed in Japan in the new plant to more effectively respond to customer needs and growing global demand as well as to further improve its supply systems. The Bridgestone Group will also have more options for future expansions, improving its ability to respond to changes in the operating environment and customer requirements.

The plant will be built with a focus on the environment and plans to achieve LEED Construction Certification by incorporating state-of-the-art technology in its facility and equipment design.
The South Carolina Department of Commerce provided $15.5 million in grants to the company for infrastructure and site preparation, including about $6 million that was provided to improve public roads adjacent to the facility. The Coordinating Council also approved the project for job development credits.

“Today’s announcement represents the largest initial capital investment by a company in our state’s history, and we celebrate the more than 850 new jobs. This is a continuation of the good work we are doing to partner with companies. South Carolina has a great reason to smile today,” said Gov. Nikki Haley.

“Bridgestone Americas is a world-class manufacturer and this investment will be a real game-changer. The company’s new plant will further strengthen South Carolina’s manufacturing sector, and shows that our business-friendly environment and top-notch talent continue to keep us competitive with locations across the globe,” said Bobby Hitt, Secretary of Commerce.

The first tire is expected to come off the line in spring 2014. The first phase, set for completion in 2015, will create more than 330 full-time and temporary jobs. When fully completed in 2020, the plant is expected to employ 550.

“On behalf of the citizens of Aiken County I want to thank Bridgestone Americas for this significant new investment and job creation being announced,” said Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young. “The County Council works hard to create an environment where manufacturing companies can locate and be successful. We are grateful for Bridgestone Americas’ confidence in our workforce and community. We look forward to working with them as they continue to grow.”

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