GREENVILLE, S.C.—Michelin North America Inc. plans to spend a minimum of $400 million over the next five years to expand seven existing facilities in South Carolina and build a rubber compounding plant, creating at least 400 new jobs. That capital investment figure could rise to $900 million over 10 years, if the company decides to add radial tire manufacturing capacity at the site of the new compounding plant, either by expanding that facility or building a separate tire plant on the same property, Michelin said.
The decision to add tire manufacturing at the new site has not yet been made, the company said, and will depend on future market conditions.
Michelin will build a 250,000-sq.-ft. rubber production plant in Anderson County, S.C., at a cost of about $90 million, a company spokesman said. Construction is expected to begin in January and the first phase of the project should be completed by the end of 2001, he said. About 100 jobs will be created at the 750-acre site, located south of Anderson County Airport on Lee-Dobbins Road.
Under a provisional second phase, Michelin would invest an additional $90 million within two or three years to further expand the plant, boosting employment by at least another 100 workers.
The Lee-Dobbins plant will be used for rubber compounding, which will be supplied to the firm's tire-making facilities throughout the U.S., the spokesman said.
The company left the door open for further expansion and radial tire manufacturing at the site as part of a possible third phase.
Michelin's intent to expand existing facilities represents investments of $220 million and covers seven sites in four South Carolina counties, including:
$90 million to convert a portion of the 1.3 million-sq.-ft. Greenville plant's passenger tire capacity to light truck/recreational tire output and expand mold-making capacity. The expansions will create about 100 new jobs at the 1,900-employee facility. Part of the investment will be devoted to the company's nearby C3M-based automated radial passenger tire plant.
$60 million to increase passenger, light truck tire and earthmover/off-the-road tire capacity at two separate plants in Lexington County by undisclosed amounts. The upgrades will create 100 to 300 new jobs at the 1.2 million-sq.-ft. passenger tire operation and the 500,000-sq.-ft. earthmover tire factory, which together employ about 1,450 workers.
$30 million to expand production of truck tires and tire molds at the 1.2 million-sq.-ft., 1,450-employee Spartanburg plant, as well as at the nearby 70,000-sq.-ft., 100-employee retreading systems unit.
$40 million to expand capacity at the 2.2 million-sq.-ft. Sandy Springs semi-finished products factory. The project will not create any new jobs at the 1,150-employee Anderson County facility.
Certain conditions must be met by Anderson County before Michelin will proceed with its plan, said James Micali, chairman and president of Michelin North America, who added he is ``confident these conditions will soon be finalized.''
Michelin's conditions call for Anderson County Council's ``approval of special source industrial revenue bond financing and a fee-in-lieu-of-property-tax agreement,'' along with the timely closing of public roads at the proposed new site, the spokesman said.
``Our development in South Carolina has been steady and extensive for the past 24 years, with total investments over $2 billion,'' Mr. Micali said. ``We're expanding once again to meet the growing demand for our products, and we've selected this state because of its continuing pro-business environment and skilled work force.''
Michelin selected Anderson County over two or three other competing counties, the closest being Stephens County, Ga., which sits on the border of Georgia and South Carolina, a company official acknowledged.
However, Anderson County had several advantages going for it in addition to prime, available land, the spokesman said, including the fact that ``the state provides good technical training and provides us with the skilled people we need.''
The $400 million to $900 million capital investment plan rivals one the company implemented in 1995, when it said it would spend about $500 million on new and expanded factories at five locations in South Carolina.
That figure grew to $800 million and included building an earthmover tire plant in Lexington, construction of a C3M passenger tire plant in Greenville, expansion of its truck tire facility in Spartanburg, upgrading and enlarging its semi-finished products site in Anderson, and upgrading its Winnsboro textile plant.
In 1997, Michelin unveiled another major investment project—this one totaling about $109 million and covering three or four years—under which three Nova Scotia locations either were expanded or had their tire capacities increased.