Cooper Chairman, President and CEO Roy Armes and International Tire Division President Hal Miller hosted 500 dignitaries, employees and members of the media today at a grand reopening ceremony. The 35-year-old car and light truck plant was idled when Cooper acquired it in January.
At the ceremony, Mr. Armes thanked Serbian and Kruševac government officials as well as the U.S. Embassy for their efforts on Cooper's behalf in acquiring the former Trayal plant.
Among those present were Serbian President Boris Tadic, Minister of Economy and Regional Development Nebojša Ciriæ, and U.S. Ambassador Mary Warlick.
Cooper elected to invest in Serbia because of its significant economic potential, Mr. Armes said, and the quality workforce, geographical advantages and Serbian government support. Kruševac is roughly 125 miles south of Belgrade.
"The Serbian government, the Kruševac community and our future employees are very excited about the opportunities we are bringing to the area and the value the operations will bring to Cooper Tire," Mr. Armes said.
Cooper had pledged to spend about $67 million over three years to upgrade the plant — renamed Cooper Tire Serbia — and expand its capacity to 3 million units annually. The Serbian government is expected to support the project in several ways, Cooper said earlir, the value of which could reach $13 million if certain goals are achieved.
Cooper said earlier it expected to restart production at the plant with "several" hundred workers and expand that eventually to 600 to 700 employees.
The Serbian news agency Tanjug posted a short video of dignitaries arriving at the factory for the grand opening.