Originally created 10/01/97

Bridgestone announces construction plans



GRANITEVILLE - Site preparation for the new Bridgestone/Firestone plant should be completed by the end of this month, when construction workers will begin laying the foundation for the $435 million passenger and light-truck tire manufacturing factory, said company spokesman John Taylor.

"The first steel beams will begin to be put up right on schedule during the early part of 1998," Mr. Taylor said.

Last week, the company announced the opening of offices temporarily located in the Economic Development Outreach division of the University of South Carolina. Howard Fikes, general manager, and Tak Aoki, assistant to Bridgestone/Firestone president Kawakami Nobuo, will remain at USCA until work is completed on the company's training center in Verenes Industrial Park in Aiken, probably sometime next month.

According to company spokeswoman Melissa Dykstra, Mr. Nobuo is expected to assume his duties in the Aiken office in January.

Hiring for the approximately 400 workers to be employed when the plant opens its doors in the spring of 1999 likely will begin in May or June, but Ms. Dykstra said preliminary interviews for maintenance positions are expected to begin next month, after the opening of the training center.

Employment at the tire plant, on Bettis Academy Road in Graniteville, is expected to reach 800 by the year 2000.

Queries regarding employment at the Bridgestone/Firestone plant should be directed to the Aiken office of the South Carolina Employment Services Commission.