April 02, 2013
Aiken County moved one step closer to becoming the world’s largest manufacturer of Bridgestone tires on Monday, according to Barry Owens, Bridgestone’s vice president of manufacturing, after the company unveiled the first set of tires produced by a recent expansion at its Graniteville plant.
Monday’s event marked the completion of Bridgestone’s second phase of expansion at the facility, a project that cost more than $300 million. The company will launch a third expansion by 2015, making it the largest global producer of Bridgestone tires. Once fully completed, the company expects 850 new jobs to have been created in the county.
The expansion, coupled with Bridgestone Americas’ work on its new 1.5-million-square-foot off-road radial tire plant, represents a $1.2 billion investment. It is the single largest capital investment in South Carolina’s history.
The most recent investment, first announced in 2011, will allow Bridgestone to begin production of an additional 12,750 passenger car radial tires and light truck radial tires per day.
Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young said Monday’s announcement shows the plant has a “phenomenal impact” on the community.
“They do everything they say they’re going to do and more. They are truly good corporate citizens and good corporate neighbors.”
Will Williams, director of the Aiken-Edgefield Economic Development Partnership, said Bridgestone has its “roots firmly established” in the community.
He also praised the company’s ability to attract job seekers from the manufacturing sector.
“These are very good jobs with benefits. You work hard here, but they pay you for working hard.”
S.C. Sen. Shane Massey indicated that Bridgestone is one of the state’s most significant industry leaders.
“If you talk to some of their executives, they’ll tell you that they feel a very close relationship with South Carolina. They like the partnership. I think that’s evident by the expansion here and what we’ll see later on,” he said, referring to the company’s next expansion.
The company’s growth is also part of a “manufacturing renaissance” that has occurred in the state, Massey added, particularly noting Michelin’s expansion in Greenville and the construction of a Continental Tire plant in Sumter.
He added that the company’s recent expansion shows the state is “open for business” and hopes more manufacturers will take a look at South Carolina to “see what we have to offer.”