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Bridgestone Expands in South Carolina

Gov. Nikki Haley, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Aiken County and the Economic Development Partnership  have announced that Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO) will expand its facility in Aiken County.

The plant will begin producing an additional 4,750 passenger and light truck tires per day beginning in the second quarter of 2013, the company announced today. The $135 million investment will create 122 full-time and contractor positions and expand the facility by 266,000 square feet in the main plant and mixing areas.

“With demand steadily increasing over the last couple of years, now is the right time to increase capacity to meet the needs of our customers,” said Larry Magee, president, Consumer Tire U.S. & Canada, BATO. “Aiken County is the right place to expand our manufacturing footprint, and we thank Gov. Haley, Secretary Hitt and the Aiken County officials who worked nonstop to create a business environment that makes this expansion and the jobs it will create a reality.”

Site preparation and construction will begin in the fourth quarter of 2011, and the manufacturing equipment will be installed in the third quarter of 2012. Construction is expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2013 with production commencing early in the second quarter of the same year.

“Bridgestone Americas has given Aiken County and our state another reason to celebrate,” said Gov. Nikki Haley. “Our administration is working tirelessly to make South Carolina’s business climate second to none and to ensure that companies like Bridgestone Americas understand there is no better place in our country to expand and create new jobs.”

“Bridgestone Americas has many choices where to invest and expand their business. Choosing South Carolina is a clear indication that the workers at Bridgestone Americas are world class. The quality workforce in our state is our greatest asset in recruiting new companies and making South Carolina the first choice for expansions,” said Bobby Hitt, Secretary of Commerce.

The Aiken County facility, which began operations in 1998, earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2009. LEED is awarded internationally to buildings for excellent energy and water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and resource stewardship. It is rarely awarded to existing manufacturing sites.

The Aiken County facility has also been recognized as an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star site. VPP status is awarded to companies that have excellent safety and health management systems and injury rates that are below the industry’s national average. The Aiken County plant is one of only three tire plants in the country to receive OSHA’s highest honor;the other two are BATO’s Warren County, Tenn., plant and the Bloomington, Ill., plant. In addition, the plant and its teammates are active in the community, supporting local organizations and activities through volunteerism, the Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund and plant contributions.

Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young added: “We are very excited with today’s news. Bridgestone Americas is very important to Aiken County. The company provides employment opportunities for our citizens and is highly involved in activities that make our county a great place to live and work. The Aiken County Council works hard to support our existing industries and we are grateful that Bridgestone Americas chose its Aiken County facility for this expansion.”

“This announcement by Bridgestone Americas is great news for Aiken County,” said Gary Stooksbury, chairman of the Board of Directors, Economic Development Partnership. “Bridgestone Americas is a leader in its industry and within Aiken County. We are very appreciative of the company’s confidence in Aiken County and the local workforce.”

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