AKRON — China's Wanli Tire Group is considering building a plant in South Carolina, according to multiple reports from various news media in the Palmetto State and in China.
Several South Carolina newspapers and television stations, citing information gleaned from a South Carolina Joint Bond Review Committee meeting agenda, are reporting that Wanli is considering a site in Orangeburg County for a plant that would employ at least 400.
According to the reports, the documents show the state's Department of Commerce plans to seek legislative panel approval to borrow up to $40.5 million to prepare the site and build roadways and a rail spur to it.
Orangeburg County is a relatively rural county — population of about 90,000 — located south of Columbia and north of Charleston.
Wanli Tire is the collective identity for two Chinese tire makers — Guangzhou South China Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. and Guangzhou Fengli Rubber & Tire Co. Ltd. — which go to market with the Aptany, Milever, Sunny and Wanli brands.
The South Carolina media reports are backed up by a LinkedIn posting from April 26 by Flawless Asia Ltd. that cites information from the Guangdong Provincial People's Government Foreign Affairs Office stating that Wanli was pursuing plans for a U.S. plant.
That source also noted that Daniel Young, director of grants and incentives for the South Carolina Department of Commerce, had visited Wanli Tire's Hefei, China, tire factory in the weeks before the posting.
The sources indicated the state of South Carolina had signed documents of cooperation with Wanli officials during a Guangdong Province-U.S. Investment Cooperation Conference held in Guangdong in mid-April.