Bridgestone to create 850 jobs in Aiken County

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Bridgestone Americas, Inc. plans to build a 1.5 million-square-foot facility in Aiken County to produce off-road tires, the company announced Wednesday.

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Bobbie Hitt (left), South Carolina's secretary of commerce, and Gary Garfield, the president and CEO of Bridgestone Americas, Inc., stand with Gov. Nikki Haley as she speaks about Bridgestone's new tire production facility and the expansion of its existing plant near Graniteville.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
Bobbie Hitt (left), South Carolina's secretary of commerce, and Gary Garfield, the president and CEO of Bridgestone Americas, Inc., stand with Gov. Nikki Haley as she speaks about Bridgestone's new tire production facility and the expansion of its existing plant near Graniteville.

The new manufacturing facility will be built on undeveloped land at Sage Mill Industrial Park four miles away from the company’s existing passenger tire facility, which will also be expanded next year.

For both projects, Bridge­stone will spend $1.2 billion.

The projects will increase employment by 850 full-time and contractor positions.

Previously, large and ultra-large off-road tires had been produced exclusively at Bridgestone Corp.’s Shimonoseki and Kitaky­ushu plants in Japan.

The manufacturing equipment for the plants will be made overseas and shipped to the Granite­ville plant.

“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,” Gov. Nikki Haley said.

The large and ultra-large tires, which are used on quarry and mine hauling trucks, weigh 5.5 tons each, support 22,000 pounds and stand 1.5 stories tall. One mining vehicle with six tires weighs 1.3 million pounds.

Will Williams, of the Economic Development Partnership, a group that works to promote capital investment in Aiken and Edgefield counties, said the Bridgestone expansion will help people recovering from previous hard times in the area.

“It shows the work force is still here. We have a great opportunity for the people of Graniteville,” Williams said.

The Graniteville expansions mark the largest investment of Bridge­stone manufacturing in the U.S., said Eduardo Minardi, the chairman and president of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations.

“We can build these tires in South Carolina and be competitive. A big reason are the excellent business conditions in this state,” Minardi said.

The plant’s additional production of 4.4 million tires a year will respond to an increased demand for production of strategic tires, or high- and ultra-high-performance tires, he said.

“Globally, the demand for off-road radial tires is steadily increasing as the need for mineral materials increases in developing countries,” said Gary Garfield, the CEO and president of Bridgestone Americas Inc.

Expansion of the existing plant will add 740,000 square feet with an expected completion date in 2013. The plant will produce 13.4 mil­lion tires annually.

The South Carolina Depart­ment of Commerce provided
$15.5 million in grants to the company for infrastructure and site preparation, including about
$6 million to improve public roads adjacent to the facility. The Coordinating Council also approved the project for job development credits.

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

“We thought it was a small project then all the sudden the next project was there,” said Bobbie Hitt, South Carolina’s Secretary of Commerce. “We’ve done this very, very quickly.”

The new facility and expansion of the current facility were termed Project Hercules, and work began in June to secure the investment, Hitt said.

The investment, Haley said, comes on the heels of other major projects such as the $750 million initial investment from the Boeing corporation in 2009 and a $1 billion plant in Anderson, S.C., for First Quality Tissue.

“Project Hercules is exactly what we need. This is a massive investment in South Carolina. It’s a massive job hire for South Carolina,” she said. “We’re very proud of the businesses that are in South Carolina, because they understand what it means to have a direct relationship with the employer and the employee.”

The state has a growing reputation for successful manufacturing operations and hard-working people to fill jobs, which attracts companies such as Bridgestone to invest, Hitt said. Of the state’s work force, 16.5 percent of jobs are in manufacturing, he said.

“People know we can build things here. We build quality things here,” Hitt said. “This is the first time we’ve really cracked 1 billion (dollars). That’s a big deal.”

Construction for the new facility and expansion will begin next month, spurring immediate job creation, said Garfield. Hiring for manufacturing jobs could begin as early as January, he said.

“For all of us at Bridgestone, it’s particularly gratifying that we can do an investment like this in the United State at this time when it needs this kind of economic boost. And it’s particularly gratifying that we can do it in Aiken County, as well, when the county and state as well can always use this kind of economic boost,” Garfield said.

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bdouglas
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bdouglas 09/21/11 - 02:41 pm
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Right on! Take those jobs

Right on! Take those jobs back from Japan!

Oh, Miss Haley...but I thought 50% of our workforce couldn't pass a drug test? And of the 50% who did, only half of them could read and write properly? If by 50% you meant LESS THAN 1%, then sure. I'm sure she'll take credit for this positive development, though.

hounddog
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hounddog 09/21/11 - 04:20 pm
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bdouglas, 'but I thought 50%
Unpublished

bdouglas, 'but I thought 50% of our workforce couldn't pass a drug test? And of the 50% who did, only half of them could read and write properly?’
But those were Clyburn supporters and not typical of the Aiken workforce.

CorporalGripweed
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CorporalGripweed 09/21/11 - 05:17 pm
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Better not let Obama or the

Better not let Obama or the NLRB hear about this.
Boeing anyone? Never mind. Obama only cares about protecting union jobs.

Pu239
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Pu239 09/21/11 - 05:35 pm
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bdouglas...You do know where
Unpublished

bdouglas...You do know where Bridgestone Corporation is based don't you?

Here is a hint...this this corporate address...10-1 Kyobashi 1-chome, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-8340, Japan

Chillen
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Chillen 09/21/11 - 07:38 pm
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Excellent news! Hopefully

Excellent news! Hopefully obama and his minions won't put a stop to this one.

walrus4ever
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walrus4ever 09/21/11 - 08:08 pm
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And a multitude of smaller

And a multitude of smaller high tech manufacturing jobs coming to the upstate of SC including 200 CNC machinists positions in Anderson and Pickens counties. Oh oh Im starting to sound like County. Sorry

bdouglas
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bdouglas 09/21/11 - 09:07 pm
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@Pu239 Well Bridgestone *is*

@Pu239 Well Bridgestone *is* a Japanese company founded by a Japanese man. However, Bridgestone-Americas, which is the company this is about, is based in Nashville, Tennessee. Would you be happier if I said "Take those jobs from Japan!" instead of BACK from Japan?

Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 09/21/11 - 09:17 pm
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TERRIFIC NEWS for Aiken

TERRIFIC NEWS for Aiken County and the remainder of the Augusta SMSA!

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 09/21/11 - 09:54 pm
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Great news! bdouglas, you do

Great news! bdouglas, you do know she apologized, right?

bjphysics
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bjphysics 09/22/11 - 03:02 am
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Excellent

Excellent

DuhJudge
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DuhJudge 09/22/11 - 05:43 am
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I thought they made golf

I thought they made golf balls.

bdouglas
5567
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bdouglas 09/22/11 - 07:14 am
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@Pu239 I don't know where my

@Pu239 I don't know where my comment I posted last night went to, but again, the plant in Graniteville and this article are about Bridgestone-Americas, which is based in Nashville, TN. Of course the parent company is Japanese...it was founded by a Japanese man. Would it have been better if I said take the jobs FROM Japan instead of BACK FROM Japan then?

@augusta citizen Apologize or not, it's statements like those that do irreparable damage to not just her own reputation, but the reputation of the single biggest economic impactor in this area. It's obvious how she feels about the place, and that makes it evident a very uphill battle is on tap to gain support for the site at the state level.

obkad
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obkad 09/22/11 - 11:48 am
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congrats to Aiken

congrats to Aiken County....Augusta county commissioners should take notice here... They have the ability to attract potential... we here in Augusta have the ability to wine, cry, and insult those who try to make this a better place.. We can't even get Bass Pro Shops to land in Augusta as the don't want to be the suckers that took the bad bait.....

Pu239
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Pu239 09/22/11 - 03:36 pm
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bdouglas....I'm extremely
Unpublished

bdouglas....I'm extremely glad these jobs are coming to Aiken County!
I have a hard time believing that we either took these jobs from Japan or back from Japan. Who do you believe sets corporate policy, budgets and vision for Bridgestone-Americas?
You can celebrate a victory without trashing the opponent.

bdouglas
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bdouglas 09/22/11 - 04:49 pm
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@pu239 I don't see where I

@pu239 I don't see where I was trashing any "opponent"...and I'm certainly celebrating. It also clearly says in the article that these tires we'll be manufacturing in Graniteville were previously made in Japan.

Pu239
284
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Pu239 09/22/11 - 07:56 pm
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bdouglas...you may want to
Unpublished

bdouglas...you may want to scan the article once more....the tires that will be made in Graniteville will be in addition to tires produced at plants in Shimonoseki and Kitaky­ushu.
Here...I'll do the leg work for you..."Previously, large and ultra-large off-road tires had been produced exclusively at Bridgestone Corp.’s Shimonoseki and Kitaky­ushu plants in Japan.

Again...this is a big win for Aiken County and thanks to Bridgestone for investing in our community.

bdouglas
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bdouglas 09/22/11 - 10:13 pm
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@Pu239 You're inferring that

@Pu239 You're inferring that it is in addition to and not replacing. Just as I was inferring what I said. My mistake, but neither is definitive. Doesn't discount the fact that 850 more jobs are coming.

Pu239
284
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Pu239 09/23/11 - 06:30 am
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bdouglas....let's agree on
Unpublished

bdouglas....let's agree on this, 850 good manufacturing jobs are coming to our communities.
At the end of the day, our (yours and mine) inferences are meaningless.

seenitB4
93474
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seenitB4 09/23/11 - 07:48 am
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Great news for this

Great news for this area.......now I wish that south Georgia could hear the same kind of news..

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