China-based tire maker plans Ge­or­gia plant

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@chi­andai­

They looked at more than 50 sites in al­most 20 states. Af­ter vis­it­ing the sites and re­view­ing state in­cen­tive pack­ages, the choice came down to LaGrange, Ge­or­gia, or one near Mem­phis, Tennessee.

And the city of about 30,000 that is about 70 miles south­west of At­lanta won out, with Sen­tury Tire de­cid­ing to build a man­u­fac­tur­ing and de­sign cen­ter in LaGrange that is ex­pected to start pro­duc­tion in 2018 and em­ploy more than 1,000 peo­ple.

“This project will have a very sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic ef­fect for La Grange,” Mayor James Thorn­ton said. “An in­vest­ment of $530 mil­lion that cre­ates over 1,000 jobs is very im­por­tant. I hope that other Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers and busi­nesses will take a look at LaGrange and Ge­or­gia for their fu­ture plans.”

“We are very happy to se­lect LaGrange for the lo­ca­tion of our North Amer­i­can man­u­fac­tur­ing,” Ex­ec­u­tive Vice-Pres­i­dent Rami Helmi­nen said in a state­ment when the an­nounce­ment was made. “The ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems and high qual­ity work­force com­ple­ment our lead­ing edge tech­nol­ogy.”

Sen­tury makes tires for cars, pick­ups and air­craft un­der the Sen­tury, Delinte and Land­sail brands. Its par­ent com­pany, Qing­dao Sen­tury Tire Co Ltd, is based in Qing­dao in Shan­dong prov­ince, em­ploys 2,500 peo­ple world­wide and cur­rently has man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions in Qing­dao and Thai­land.

Sen­tury said it spe­cial­izes in the ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing of tires in which ro­bot­ics plays a key role in the pro­duc­tion process. The com­pany said Sen­tury is now ranked among the top 75 tire com­pa­nies in the world.

“When Sen­tury Tire con­nected with the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, we knew they were fo­cused on be­ing in the right spot. Their com­mit­ment to lo­cate in LaGrange speaks to Ge­or­gia’s busi­ness­cli­mate and the strong re­la­tion­ship we main­tain with our eco­nomic part­ners in China,” said Nico Wi­jn­berg, di­rec­tor of in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment for the depart­ment.

Wi­jn­berg said Sen­tury will be el­i­gi­ble for a va­ri­ety of tax cred­its, in­clud­ing some tied to the cre­ation of the 1,000 jobs.

Sen­tury’s LaGrange fa­cil­ity will be 16 miles from a plant owned by Kia Mo­tors in West Point, Ge­or­gia, and about 95 miles from a Hyundai fac­tory near Mont­gomery, Alabama.

In 2015, Chi­nese com­pa­nies Lin­hai Pow­er­sports and Ningbo Huige Out­door Prod­ucts Co Ltd, an­nounced plans to estab­lish US and North Amer­i­can op­er­a­tions in Gwin­nett County, which is near At­lanta.

Ge­or­gia has ag­gres­sively pur­sued Chi­nese in­vest­ment. The state has had a trade of­fice in China for about 10 years and moved the of­fice to Qing­dao in 2013.

We are very happy to se­lect LaGrange for the lo­ca­tion.”

Rami Helmi­nen, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent, Sen­tury Tire

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