$560M tire plant breaks ground in Chester County

What to know:

  • A Singapore-based tire company is bringing 1,700 jobs to Chester County.
  • The company broke ground at a 1,100-acre site Thursday.
  • This is the first plant to be built in the United States for the company.

CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. -- Singapore-based Giti Tire planted a very large footprint Thursday morning on Chester County.

"We are so very happy to call Chester home," said Giti Chairman Enki Tan as he turned the dirt alongside Gov. Nikki Haley and other dignitaries.

IMAGES: Giti Tire breaks ground in Chester Co.

Giti announced in June that it had chosen a 1,100-acre site near Richburg to build its first North American plant.

The plant will make car and light truck tires, about 30,000 of them every day once they open in 18 months.

The tire company is the 10th largest in the world.

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"The face of Chester will never be the same," said county supervisor Carlisle Roddey.  

As he stood next to Haley, shovel in hand, Roddey could be heard thanking the governor for the work her office did to secure the $560 million investment.

With a population of only about 33,000, Chester County is still small, rural and mostly poor.

Like many rural areas, Chester County has struggled to draw in new jobs since the decline of textile mills in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Five years ago, unemployment here topped 20 percent.

Becoming emotional, Roddey said looking back this is an achievement that can't be matched.

'This is something to behold. Something I'll remember for the rest of my days. I haven't got a lot of them left, but the ones I do have, I'll remember this day, I'll tell you that," he said.

Haley recognized that it wasn't easy for a foreign company to take such a risk in America and in a place like Chester County.

She urged the community to stand by the plant in good and bad times.

"I want you to remember the sacrifice they are all making, to take the chance on this place," Haley said.

In addition, the tire plant is expected to radically change the landscape along a quiet stretch of Interstate 77 between Charlotte and Columbia.

Other businesses are already showing interest in the area, said Economic Development Directordirector Karlisa Parker, who helped sell Giti on Chester more than 2two years ago.

"We're hoping to attract some quality hotels, more restaurants and create a really wonderful place," Parker said.

She also said roughly 1,000 construction workers will be on site for the next year-and-a-half and that means business.

"We have to feed them, house them and provide services for them too. It's a great day for Chester County," Parker said. "It really is."

Job opportunities and training will begin about midyear through www.readysc.org, Giti executives said.

The website offers information about training classes available through South Carolina's technical colleges.

Giti tire is already listed on the website with a message alerting visitors to check back for job information over the coming months.

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