- Associated Press - Monday, June 16, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A Singapore-based tire manufacturer plans to spend $560 million in a Chester County plant expected to create 1,700 new jobs over the next decade.

Officials announced Monday that Giti Tire is building its first North American manufacturing facility in rural Richburg. The 1.8 million square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility will be built off Interstate 77.

Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said the announcement bolsters the state’s reputation as the nation’s tire capital. Michelin, Bridgestone, and Continental also have announced new or expanded facilities in the past few years.

The Chester County plant will make passenger and light truck tires. It will be the company’s ninth manufacturing plant worldwide.

“This significant investment represents our strong commitment to customers in North America,” said Enki Tan, chairman of Giti Tire Group. “This is a key milestone for Giti Tire and an important part of our growth strategy worldwide.”

Lei Huai Chin, the company’s managing director, said the location - 40 miles south of downtown Charlotte, North Carolina - was picked partly because of its access to the interstate, rail, airports and a major metropolitan area that can support the company’s needs and growth.

Others attending the announcement included Singapore’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ashok Kumar Mipuri.

The plant’s initial capacity is expected to be five million tires annually. Officials hope demand will require increased capacity later.

Gov. Nikki Haley called the announcement “another huge win for our state and Team South Carolina.”

In December, Michelin celebrated completion of its Earthmover tire plant in Anderson, which makes giant, 12-foot-tall tires. The 800,000-square-foot facility is part of a $750 million project, announced in 2012, that’s expected to create 500 new jobs at the new plant in Starr and an expansion of an existing Earthmover tire plant in Lexington.

Continental Tire’s new plant in Sumter officially opened in January. Ground was broken in March 2012 at the new $500 million facility for the North American arm of German-based Continental AG. The plant is expected to be completely built and fully operational in 2021. The company has said it will have 1,600 workers when finished at the end of the decade.

Bridgestone Americas Inc. plans to spend $1.2 billion on a new plant in Aiken County and expansion of an existing facility that should add 850 workers by 2020. The first phase has been set for completion in 2015.

Two other jobs announcements are planned for later Monday in Fort Mill.

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