GREENVILLE, S.C.—Michelin North America Inc. has been quietly making plans to build a tire-related manufacturing plant in South Carolina or Georgia. Michelin officials won't acknowledge or discuss the proposed facility, but it is expected to cost around $200 million, make semi-finished tire products similar to those manufactured at an existing factory in Anderson County, S.C., and be located in one of four communities, where it will create 250 to 300 jobs, according to a source close to the company.
Michelin also is considering investing another $100 million to $200 million in some of its existing plants in South Carolina and other states, said the source, who asked not to be identified.
The tire maker isn't expected to make a site decision until September or October.
A Michelin spokeswoman said talk of a new factory or a location is ``pure speculation.'' She referred inquiries to another executive, who said the company won't comment on the matter.
However, government officials in Anderson County and Stephens County, Ga., acknowledged Michelin has looked at their areas as the possible site for a new facility.
While he doesn't know the exact size of the facility or the products it would produce, an Anderson County official estimated it would be in the 100,000- to 150,000-sq.-ft. range and make rubber-related goods.
Both counties are anxious to land the plant, but Anderson is considered the front-runner, because Michelin has an existing facility in Sandy Springs, S.C., also in Anderson County. In addition, the firm's U.S. headquarters is in Greenville, S.C., and it has four other manufacturing operations in the state.
Jerry Howard, director of the Anderson County Office of County Development, noted the county is 25 miles from Greenville and has a population of about 170,000. About 37 percent of the community's work force is in manufacturing and considered highly skilled, he said.
Michelin North America is in the final year of a four-year, $1 billion investment program that has affected up to a dozen plants in the U.S. and Canada and included construction of a dedicated earthmover tire plant in Lexington, S.C.