GADSDEN, Ala. — Goodyear has begun the previously announced expansion of its Gadsden passenger and light truck tire plant, a project that will add capacity for higher-value, larger rim-diameter tires.
The tire maker´s groundbreaking of the two- to three-year modernization and expansion took place Sept. 14. The company said it will add 240,000 square feet to the 78-year-old facility to house tire-building equipment capable of handling tires with rim diameters up to 24 inches.
The factory currently covers 2.8 million square feet.
Goodyear, in filings for a tax abatement with local officials, estimated it will spend about $125 million on the project.
Daily capacity is listed as 25,000 units, with about a fourth of those designated for original equipment customers, according to information from United Steelworkers Local 12. The largest tires the plant can build now are 18-inch sizes, Local 12 President Dennis Battles said.
The project is part of $550 million Goodyear officials pledged to invest in North America during the most recent round of negotiations with the USW, which represents 1,300 employees at the Gadsden plant.
The expansion is not expected to create any jobs but will help retain the current workers. Goodyear is the largest employer in Etowah County, where Gadsden is located. The last major expansion at the plant was in 1977-78 when it was converted to radials.
The plant was on Goodyear´s short list of factories to close in 1999, but work by local plant management and the union, plus a rebounding U.S. tire market, persuaded Goodyear to keep it open.
The state of Alabama has earmarked $20 million in funding and incentives for Gadsden. Goodyear also is negotiating incentives with the Gadsden-Etowah County Industrial Development Authority.