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Singapore Tire Company Plans 1,700 Jobs for S.C.

June 16, 2014

Eric Frazier, The Charlotte Observer

June 16--CHESTER, S.C. -- Giti, a Singapore-based tire company will invest $560 million in Chester County, S.C., creating 1,700 jobs, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley announced Monday.

The tire maker will build a manufacturing facility between S.C. 9, the Lancaster Highway and S.C. 56, Old Richburg Road. The county has been seeking to develop the 1,100-acre site for years, but kept losing out on major plant relocations and expansions.

"What a day it is for Chester County," said longtime County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey. "We've been the bridesmaid so many times it seems like we've filled up the landfill with bouquets."

Giti Tire's products are sold in more than 100 countries, according to the company's website, and it has the ninth-highest sales revenue among tire companies.

The plant will be the fourth major tire plant in South Carolina, solidifying the state's claim as the leading tire manufacturer and exporter in the country. Currently, tire companies in South Carolina make 84,000 tires a day.

"This is team South Carolina at work," a jubilant Haley declared.

Giti Chairman Enki Tan, in Chester County for Monday's announcement, said: "This plant here in Chester, we're going to make it the best plant we ever had."

It was the first of three major economic development announcements expected Monday in the S.C. counties just south of Charlotte.

Tan said the company's plant will occupy 1.8 million square feet, and will churn out 5 million tires a year.

He said the company considered sites around the country. Asked if he considered any in North Carolina, he indicated he had, but declined to elaborate other than to say that the various suitors for the plant were "very competitive."

South Carolina offered an incentives package that included $37.8 million to buy and prepare the land, $2 million toward water and sewer preparation, and an as-yet unspecified amount of job development tax credits, essentially refunds of employee withholding taxes.

Tan added that hiring for the plant, the company's first in North America, will begin immediately.

It wasn't immediately clear how much the jobs will pay.

The announcement comes as welcome news in Chester County, a region hard-hit by textile job losses over the past two decades. As recently as the mid-1990s, Springs Industries had 15,000-plus workers in the Carolinas and was a dominant employer in York, Chester and Lancaster counties.

Chester County's jobless rate surged to above 20 percent by June 2009 and stayed above it until March 2010. It now stands at 6.9 percent.

Haley was expected to make two announcements Monday afternoon in Fort Mill. Sources have told The Herald of Rock Hill that the two York County projects represent an investment of more than $200 million and more than 5,000 jobs.

Speculation in York County has fallen on LPL Financial, a firm that employs about 1,000 in Charlotte and has a couple of offices near Billy Graham Parkway. A real estate source told the Observer the company has been seeking office space in the Charlotte area.

The financial services company, which came to Charlotte about eight years ago by acquiring UVEST Financial Services, has been growing its local operations. In 2012, the company announced plans to add up to 100 technology jobs in Charlotte by the end of 2013.

LPL spokesman Tony Vignieri said the company is slated to make an announcement on Monday, but declined to say more.

Mecklenburg and its neighboring South Carolina counties have long competed over job-recruitment projects. In December, Mecklenburg lost a closely fought battle for a Chinese yarn factory and 500 jobs when the firm announced it was heading to Lancaster County.

Britt Blackwell, the York County Council chair, said South Carolina officials also recognize that their proximity to the Queen City and Charlotte Douglas International Airport helps them attract industry.

"We'll certainly be great competitors for bringing industry to the area," he said, "but at the same time we certainly have a lot of respect for Charlotte and what it does for the region." Staff Writer Don Worthington of the (Rock Hill) Herald contributed.


(c)2014 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

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Original headline: Giti, a Singapore tire company, to bring 1,700 jobs to Chester County, S.C., invest $560 million

Source: (c)2014 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

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