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Chinese tire maker bringing 800 jobs

Tire Factory-North Carolina

In a photo provided by the North Carolina Governors Office, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, right, speaks to Triangle Tire Chairman Ding Yuhua, center, and his translator Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, at Edgecombe Community College in Tarboro, N.C., after the company announced plans to build a tire plant that would eventually employ 800 workers and produce 6 million tires a year. (North Carolina Governors Office via AP)

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Staff, Wire Reports

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

TARBORO — A Chinese tire maker announced Tuesday it would build a $580 million manufacturing facility in Edgecombe County that eventually will employ 800 people and produce six million tires a year.

A state committee that administers large corporate tax breaks has approved plans to coax Triangle Tire to a 1,500-acre site between Rocky Mount and Tarboro, which was offered as a location to potential manufacturers needing lots of space by the economic development groups that assembled it.

The plant will be boon to the region, economic officials said, and likely will mean jobs for Pitt County residents. The site is about 45 minutes northwest of Greenville.

The site also is near the Interstate 95 corridor and borders a CSX Transportation rail line. Triangle’s operation would use about 400 acres of that site, state Commerce Department spokesman David Rhodes said.

Triangle Tire has exported to the U.S. market for more than two decades and established its U.S. subsidiary in Franklin, Tenn., nearly two years ago, the company’s website said.

Its parent company, Triangle Tyre Co. Ltd., manufactures more than 25 million tires a year that are sold in more than 180 countries. The company’s manufacturing systems are highly automated and the company is working on tires with built-in chips that monitor and collect information about road conditions, temperature and tire wear and damage.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced the deal at Edgecombe Community College in Tarboro on Tuesday along with company officials and dignitaries from the state and region. They said it marks the largest-ever manufacturing investment in rural North Carolina.

“This is an exciting day for North Carolina, but particulary rural North Carolina,” Cooper said. “We know the rural areas need these jobs. This shows that top companies will locate top paying jobs in rural areas as long as we provide them with the support and the highly-skilled workforce they need to get the job done.”

Pitt County Economic Development Commission Director Wanda Yuhas said a major announcement in one eastern North Carolina county is good for the region as a whole.

“While we won’t get any tax base from it, it is very likely that some Pitt County residents will secure jobs there,” Yuhas said. “Another automotive facility joining our ASMO and Hyster-Yale facilities helps solidify an automotive cluster for eastern North Carolina.”

Triangle Group Co. Chairman Ding Yuhua said the company decided to locate here after a comprehensive search for potential sites. It was drawn to the Edgecombe County megasite because of its central location on the East Coast, access to highways, quality of the local workforce and the warm welcome from state and local officials, he said.

“This significant investment will play a key role in Triangle Tire’s growth strategy worldwide and represents a strong commitment to our customers in North America,” Ding said. “We want to thank Gov. Cooper and his team for all of their work in making this happen. We are excited to be coming to Edgecombe County.”

Company officials said two plants will be in built at the site in phases. The first facility, which will make tires for passenger vehicles, will begin construction in the second half of 2019 and be fully operational by 2020.

The second plant, which will make tires for commercial vehicles, should be fully operational in 2022.

State officials said the company could get up to $152 million in incentives and tax breaks, worker training and other incentives if it meets hiring targets. The incentives include $66 million from the state and $86 million from Edgecombe County.

The project is estimated to contribute more than $2.4 billion to North Carolina’s economy. The plant is expected to pay an average wage of $56,450, while the average wage in Edgecombe County is $32,642.

Cooper said the state has made it a priority to put together a rural economic development initiative to urge companies to come to rural areas in North Carolina like Edgecombe County.

Triangle Tire has been in operation for more than 40 years and is based in the Shandong Province of China. Company officials said Triangle has concentrated on tire technology innovation, manufacturing and the global tire market.

The company owns a state-certified enterprise technology development center, a state-level industrial design center and a postdoctoral scientific research station platform. Currently, Triangle’s annual manufacturing capacity is more than 22 million tires and the company’s products have been exported to more than 180 countries and regions.

In the past two weeks, Edgecombe County has been the center of two major economic development projects in the state. New York-based Corning, Inc., a world leading innovator in materials science, will be investing $86 million in the county to build a state-of-the-art global distribution center that will create 111 jobs.

“When you’re announcing a poject like Corning and Triangle, what you’re announcing is hope,” said Norris Tolson, CEO and president of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership. “Both of these are going to provide really good jobs for people in the county and surrounding counties as well.

The plant is the first in the United States for the Weihai, a China-based maker of tires for passenger vehicles, trucks and buses and heavy equipment.

“We expect that this will provide a huge boost in brand awareness and interest in our products as we continue to expand our presence in the U.S.,” Manny Cicero, CEO of the company’s Triangle Tire USA subsidiary, said in a statement.

The factory marks at least the third Chinese tiremaker to build production plants in the U.S.

Wanli Tire Corp. said in June it plans to build a factory employing at least 400 people and later rising to 1,200 in South Carolina, America’s tire-producing capital. Sentury Tire announced plans in 2016 to develop a $530 million factory in LaGrange, Ga.

Triangle was the third-largest tire Chinese manufacturer based on 2015 global sales, according to Tire Business, an Akron, Ohio-based trade newspaper. Triangle ranked 17th among tire companies in worldwide sales, the newspaper estimated.

Corey Davis of the Rocky Mount Telegram and Ginger Livingston of The Daily Reflector contributed to this report along with the Associated Press.

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