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Kumho eyes 2016 start for U.S. plant

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Kumho Tire Co. Inc. image Artist's rendering of what Kumho Tire Co. Inc.'s Bibb County, Ga., consumer tire plant will look like. It's scheduled to be on stream by 2016.

MACON, Ga. (July 2, 2014) — South Korea's Kumho Tire Co. Inc. will restart construction in August of its delayed consumer tire plant in Macon, with a January 2016 production start-up being planned, Georgia economic development officials and Kumho representatives disclosed July 1.

Kumho also nearly doubled the investment for the project to $413 million. The factory, to be built on a 150-acre site in Sofkee Industrial Park south of Macon, is expected to create 450 jobs once production starts in 2016, the officials and Kumho representatives said July 1 in Macon.

The tire maker started construction on the plant in 2008, but work was halted shortly thereafter in the throes of the global recession that started that year. Initially, construction was pushed back to early 2010, but in fall 2009 the company said the project would be delayed again indefinitely.

Last fall Kumho officials indicated conditions had improved to the point they were planning to restart construction.

Wakefield Beasley & Associates photo Kumho Tire USA Inc.'s 410,500-sq.-ft. distribution facility in McDonough, Ga., features a corner entrance designed to play off Kumho's wing-motif logo. The corner entry is crowned by two 103,000-pound panels that meet in a V, and the open spaces are filled with reflective blue glass. An aluminum awning completes the unorthodox entry design, according to the architects, Wakefield Beasley & Associates.

Harry Choi, president of Kumho Tire Georgia Inc., said the company is looking forward to “creating a successful and lasting business here.” He thanked local and state officials for their “consistent faith in and support for this important project,” which was delayed nearly six years.

In September 2013, Mr. Choi said  production could start at 3 million tires per year, with the potential for 10 million. The original announcement called for a $225 million factory.

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert called the long-awaited project an example of the adage, “Good things are worth the wait.”

The Georgia Department of Economic Development and Georgia Electric Membership Corp. — a statewide trade association that includes Georgia’s 41 electric membership corporations, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp. — worked with the Macon Economic Development Commission and the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority team to bring the Kumho project to Macon-Bibb County.

The plant will complement a 410,500-sq.-ft. distribution center Kumho opened in nearby Henry County in 2007.A state grant helped prepare the site for development, and local property taxes will be phased in over 20 years for an estimated incentive of $17 million, according to local news reports.

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