NEW ORLEANS — Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc. is planning to open a 350,000-sq.-ft. warehouse distribution center in Franklin, La., capable of handling 5 million passenger and light truck tires a year.
The project, being undertaken in partnership with Melis Group L.L.C. of Salt Lake City, will create upward of 200 full-time jobs when it opens.
The Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA), which helped facilitate the project, put the value of the investment in the "multi-million" dollar range. Port NOLA did not state whether Kumho would own or lease the new facility.
Kumho's decision to locate in Franklin is considered a "significant investment" in the economy of St. Mary Parish, according to Port NOLA, and ties into Louisiana's role already as a key import locale for the U.S. rubber and tire market.
The new warehouse will be able to use Port NOLA's existing container services, the partners said, and should benefit from a $1.8 billion container facility being built in the area in a public-private investment partnership.
"We are thrilled Kumho Tire chose Louisiana for a new tire distribution facility," Port NOLA President and CEO Brandy Christian said.
"This is a testament to the work Port NOLA and our economic development partners have done to attract new imports and grow container business statewide. Kumho's investment will also strengthen Louisiana's position in the rubber and tire market as Port NOLA continues to be the No. 1 importer of natural rubber in the United States."
Port NOLA pitched Kumho on St. Mary Parish's benefits, including including access to multi-modal transportation options, proximity to existing and potential markets of interest to Kumho and the ability to tap into workforce training programs of the two SLCC campuses in the parish.
Kumho did not comment on its reasons for selecting Franklin as the site for this facility.
In addition, the area is home to three of the largest carbon black plants in the U.S.
Franklin is a town of about 7,600 residents located 100 miles west of New Orleans and about 50 miles south of Lafayette, La., and access to Interstate 10 via Louisiana State Route 90.
The Port NOLA's primary facilities are in New Orleans proper, on the Mississippi River.