SUMTER, S.C.—Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C.'s new tire plant in Sumter has started commercial-scale production, three months ahead of schedule, with 250 employees.
Conti broke ground on the $500 million plant in March 2012, and workers began pre-production trial manufacturing in mid-October.
Conti did not say which tire type or types will be the first produced, but it said the plant's first shipments to customers would be in February.
The 1 million sq.-ft. plant is designed to produce about 5 million passenger and light truck tires a year by 2017 and up to 8 million units a year by 2021, Conti said.
Employment eventually will hit 1,600.
Conti has scheduled a grand opening for the plant on Jan. 28.
Plant manager Craig Baartman thanked the Sumter community and state of South Carolina for their "outstanding support" of the project, saying Conti and all those working on the Sumter plant are "thrilled" to have reached this milestone.
Human Resources Manager David Ray lauded the efforts of readysc—part of the SC Technical College System, Center for Accelerated Technology Training and—in providing pre-hire training and assessment of "well-qualified, local candidates," who have been instrumental in the project's early completion.
Job postings can be viewed at readysc.org/Conti.