Area factories that will be making tires, pigment and coffee are rising from the ground.
Next year, construction will wrap up for some of the region’s top economic-development projects.
In Graniteville, about 750 people work daily on the construction of a 1.5-million-square-foot facility for Bridgestone.
It is expected to peak at 1,000 people a day at some point in 2013, said Steve Brooks, the chief project officer for Bridgestone Americas.
The facility in Aiken County will manufacture large and ultra-large off-road radial tires – with test runs beginning in August.
That project, coupled with expansions at the nearby passenger-tire plant, represents a $1.2 billion investment. The workforce will grow by 850 positions when everything is completed.
“We are probably halfway through the plant with the building. Construction continues well. The weather has held good for us,” Brooks said.
The construction will be done between October and December 2013, he said, which should also mark the beginning of production of the massive mining tires.
Meanwhile, in Richmond County the steel structure has been erected for Starbucks, a $172 million plant in the Augusta Corporate Park on Mike Padgett Highway.
The 180,000-square-foot facility will produce Starbucks VIA Ready Brew, the coffee base for Frappuccino drinks and many of Starbucks’ other ready-to-drink beverages and will employ 140.
It is on schedule to open in February 2014, said Henry Ingram, the chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority.
“Once you start seeing the steel go up, the frame, that tells you that things are ready to start happening on a rapid basis,” Ingram said. “In our conversation with them, they are very satisfied.”
In September, the Georgia Economic Developers Association named the project the Deal of the Year in the large community division.
Closer to the airport, the ground sits ready for Rockwood Performance Additives.
Company President Andrew Ross said construction will begin in earnest in 2013 for its $115 million plant that will produce synthetic iron oxide pigments used in construction, coatings and plastics.
“We’re in the detailed engineering phase, which is a precursor to getting boots on the ground and working on the foundation,” Ross said.
There should be more activity on the site in June or July, he said.
It will be the first new iron oxide pigment production plant built in the U.S. in nearly 35 years.
“We’ve got other pigment facilities in other parts of the country, and we also have a major one in Italy. But this will be unique in some respects and copy from other plants,” Ross said.
He estimated that the plant will be complete in 2014 and is expected to employ 100 people.