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Cooper evaluating Tupelo plant investment

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FINDLAY, Ohio (May 6, 2014) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is evaluating an investment of perhaps as much as $140 million to modernize its Tupelo, Miss., car and light truck tire plant, aided by up to $39 million in state and local funding.

The project to make the plant more competitive came to light recently when Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bond issue bill that would authorize the state to borrow $230 million for a variety of industrial projects, including $20 million over three years to support Cooper’s plans to modernize the 30-year-old Tupelo plant.

In addition, Lee County’s board of supervisors has approved a plan to give Cooper $18.8 million in property tax breaks over 10 years, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

Cooper acknowledged it is making an investment to modernize equipment in Tupelo, but declined to discuss specifics or comment on details that have been published widely in Mississippi.

The company did say: “We are grateful to have the support of the government there as we work to make our plants even more competitive. We do not provide specifics on the equipment modernization as it represents proprietary information.”

 

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. photo Cooper Tire Chairman, CEO and President Roy Armes

In addition, Cooper Chairman, CEO and President Roy Armes brought the investment matter to the attention of financial analysts participating in the firm's recent first quarter earnings conference call, saying: "Our goal with such efforts and others is to make all of our plants more competitive in the marketplace."

The state’s promise to lend aid to Cooper comes a year after the Mississippi Legislature and Gov. Bryant granted $130 million in incentives for Yokohama Tire Corp., which is building a truck tire plant in West Point, Miss.

Cooper employs 1,400 at the non-unionized plant in northeast Mississippi, which is rated at 42,000 car and light truck tires a day.

The company last disclosed an investment in the Tupelo plant in 2011, when it said it was investing $9 million to enhance flexibility. Before that it spent $7 million in 2009-10 to fund a 32,000-sq.-ft. expansion.

Last year the United Steelworkers held meetings with employees at Tupelo in an attempt to unionize them.

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TB Reader Poll

Previous | Published January 28, 2016

Titan International and the United Steelworkers union have petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Commerce seeking relief from OTR tire imports from China, India and Sri Lanka. What’s your opinion?

I wholeheartedly support their action – something needs to be done.
46%
(36 votes)
I think it’s a bad idea that could inevitably tie the hands of domestic tire makers.
13%
(10 votes)
I oppose any duties against tire importers—they only raise costs for distributors and make it harder to obtain inventory.
24%
(19 votes)
I’m kind of on the fence and not sure what’s right, but need more information before deciding.
14%
(11 votes)
I don’t really care whether or not relief is granted.
3%
(2 votes)
Total votes: 78