LAGRANGE, Ga.—China's Qingdao Sentury Tire Co. Ltd. has selected LaGrange in southwest Georgia as the site for a $530 million car and light truck tire plant it expects to have in operation by 2018, according to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.
The plant, which Sentury indicated a year ago it intended to build, will create more than 1,000 jobs and be capable of producing 12 million car and light truck tires a year at full capacity, according to Rami Helminen, Sentury Tire executive vice president. The executive cited Georgia's education systems, high quality work force and logistics infrastructure as reasons for his company selecting LaGrange for the plant.
“We are confident that Georgia has the infrastructure that can help us build a successful logistical operation to supply our growing aftermarket dealer sales and OEM sales to auto manufacturers in the North American market,” Helminen said.
Sentury selected the LaGrange site after considering as many as 40 sites in 12 states, Helminen said.
In terms of financial incentives, the LaGrange Development Authority awarded Sentury a $7 million Regional Economic Business Assistance Program, but as of mid-September other state and local officials hadn't disclosed details of any other incentives.
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs, however, said Sentury is eligible for job tax credits, port tax credits, sales tax and exemptions on machinery and equipment, and a Quick Start valuation. Helminen declined to discuss specifics as well.
Sentury plans to incorporate a research and development center into the plant that will employ approximately 100 qualified technical personnel, Helminen added, so the company can be better equipped to design products for North America and to lay the groundwork for eventually pursuing original equipment contracts.
The plant will be built in the 1,600-acre Callaway South Industrial Park on the south side of LaGrange just north of I-85 and south of the LaGrange Airport. Sentury will lease a 500-acre plot of land that Helminen said leaves plenty of opportunity for growth beyond the initial phase.
Groundbreaking is expected in the first half of 2017.
A portion of the site is a designated “CSX Select” site because of its infrastructure and other attributes.
Sentury, represented in the U.S. by Sentury Tire Americas of Miami, goes to market with three brand names—Delinte, Landsail and Sentury. Sentury Tire Americas operates warehousing in Miami and Memphis, Tenn.
Qingdao Sentury was rated No. 58 on the 2016 Rubber & Plastics News' Top 75 list of global tire makers, with fiscal 2015 sales of $295 million.
About 70 percent of Sentury Tire's sales are generated in the North American and European Union markets.
LaGrange is a city of about 30,000 located about halfway between Atlanta and Montgomery, Ala. It's the county seat of Troup County.
“Sentury Tire's commitment to locate in LaGrange speaks to Georgia's business-friendly climate and the strong relationship we maintain with our economic partners in China,” Deal said.
“We value Sentury Tire's investment in Georgia and the vision of the company's leadership for continued growth in Troup County.
“I am positive that Georgia's automotive manufacturing and technology capabilities will be assets to Sentury Tire as the company serves a growing customer base.”
South Korea's Kia Motor Co. Ltd. operates a vehicle assembly plant in nearby West Point, Ga.
Chris Carr, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said the Sentury tire plant project is a “great example of the relationships that have been forged through active communication and engagement in China.”
The state of Georgia has had a strategic office in China since 2007 and an office in Qingdao since 2013, helping foster business connections between Georgia and China.
LaGrange Mayor Jim Thorton said Sentury Tire's decision “confirms that LaGrange is one of the best places for international investment in the Southeast.”
LaGrange is home to businesses from 10 foreign nations, Thornton said.