There's no secret formula that has allowed South Carolina to become the top tire manufacturing state in the U.S.
There are several simple reasons why it has been able to convince a growing number of companies to locate tire production sites in South Carolina, as well as have Michelin North America Inc. continue to expand and establish new plants there.
South Carolina officials tout the state's infrastructure as the main differentiator in its ability to attract investments. Besides being located along the Atlantic Coastallowing for easy import and export of products and materialsSouth Carolina prides itself on maintaining a strong highway system, airports and rail system. It has budgeted $2 billion for investments to build a new port terminal and new rail system, along with other infrastructure upgrades.
A second factor that helps set South Carolina apart is its education and training programs. ReadySC customizes training programs for each company at no cost, utilizing the state's 16 technical colleges.
Of course, companies deciding where to locate manufacturing operations won't overlook what is a less-than-friendly attitude toward unions in South Carolina. The state's unionization rate in 2013 stood at 3.7 percent, compared to the national average of 11.3 percent. With a history of labor turmoil in the tire industry, it's no secret that tire firms would rather not have to bargain with a unionsomething they won't likely ever have to do in South Carolina, a self-proclaimed right to work state.
And one last factor that is important in tipping the decision in favor of South Carolina is how it treats existing business. The state doesn't spend all of its time trying to catch the next big fish. It also concentrates on taking care of the businesses that already are there. That's why Michelin, a corporate citizen of the state for four decades, continues to invest there, both in existing and new facilities.
It may not be rocket science, but South Carolina definitely has its pro-business actions down to a science.
This editorial appeared in Rubber & Plastics News, an Akron-based sister publication of Tire Business.