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Michelin adding capacity in S.C.

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STARR, S.C.—Michelin North America Inc. is committing $200 million through mid-2014 to expand rubber compounding capacity at its Starr plant to support tire manufacturing capacity expansions under way at other Michelin plants in South Carolina.

Michelin did not quantify the scale of the expansion nor say how large the expanded manufacturing space will be, but it did say the expansion will create more than 100 new jobs at the 12-year-old Starr plant. Employment there now is 100.

This project brings to $1.15 billion the amount of investment Michelin has committed to South Carolina in the past 21 months. Those investments represent at least 870 new manufacturing jobs in the state, Michelin said.

Pete Selleck, chairman and president of Michelin North America, called the Starr plant expansion a “lynchpin” in Michelin's drive to maintain industry leadership.

“Michelin's continued investment in Anderson County and the state of South Carolina is a testament to our proven, high-quality workforce here,” he said.

Construction has begun on the Starr plant expansion on land adjacent to the current facility. Also under construction nearby is the new earthmover plant Michelin announced last year. That plant is scheduled to begin producing tires later this year.

The Starr factory is one of two semi-finished rubber production plants Michelin operates in Anderson County, S.C. The other, in Sandy Springs, is the company's largest rubber-producing plant worldwide.

“This facility produces the quality rubber compound used in Michelin's tires, and its ability to meet the strong demand for our products is critically important,” said Rich Kornacki, executive vice president of Michelin North America and head of the specialty product lines.

The Starr plant will be Michelin's third largest compounding facility worldwide when the expansion is completed, Mr. Kornacki said.

The state of South Carolina is providing $1.5 million in incentives, Mr. Kornacki said, and Michelin has signed an agreement with Anderson County providing for fees in lieu of taxes.

Michelin employs nearly 9,000 in South Carolina, making it one of the state's largest manufacturing employers.

Anderson County Council Chairman Francis Crowder called the relationship between Michelin and the county “long and fruitful.”
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