(From the April 30, 2012, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
HILTON HEAD, S.C.—South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is glorying in her state's new status as the biggest tire-producing state in the U.S., and she would love to have still more tire plants there.
“Those of you who aren't in South Carolina—what are you waiting on?” asked Haley at the 28th annual Clemson University Tire Industry Conference, held April 18-20 in Hilton Head.
The governor was keynote speaker at the conference's April 19 luncheon, attended by more than 100 executives and technical experts from tire makers and suppliers around the globe.
Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C. broke ground March 28 on a $500 million passenger and light truck tire plant in Sumter, S.C., and shortly afterward Michelin North America Inc. announced it would make $750 million in investments to build an earthmover tire facility in Anderson County, S.C., and expand an existing off-the-road tire plant in Lexington, S.C.
All of this followed Bridgestone Americas Inc.'s announcement last year that it would build a 1.5 million-sq.-ft. OTR tire factory in Graniteville, S.C. The tire manufacturer also plans to expand its existing passenger and light truck tire facility in Graniteville.
“We want to be sure we continue to be a business-friendly state,” Haley said in her speech.
“First of all, we will make sure the cost of doing business is low in South Carolina,” she said.
Since the most important things to any manufacturing business are cash flow and profit margins, South Carolina will make sure no manufacturer has any problems on those accounts, Haley said.
Taxes will be low, incentives will be high and unions will be nonexistent, the governor said.
“I am a union buster,” said Haley, one of the staunchest conservatives among the nation's Republican governors. “I don't like them, I don't deal with them.”
Unions, according to Haley, are generally unpopular in South Carolina. “You can send unions into South Carolina, but the workers tell them to get out,” she said.
Any company that brings business and jobs to South Carolina, according to Haley, has a friend in her.
“We take care of the businesses we have here,” she said. “When a company comes into South Carolina, the first thing they get is my personal phone number. In South Carolina, it's all about personal relationships.”
Lanxess Corp. sponsored the luncheon.