China-based tire maker chooses Georgia for US plant

Updated: 2016-10-03 17:58


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They looked at more than 50 sites in almost 20 states. After visiting the sites and reviewing tstate incentive packages, the choice came down to LaGrange, Georgia, or one near Memphis, Tennessee.

And the city of about 30,000 that is about 70 miles southwest of Atlanta won out, with Sentury Tire deciding to build a manufacturing and design center in LaGrange that is expected to start production in 2018 and employ more than 1,000 people.

"This project will have a very significant economic effect for La Grange,'' Mayor James Thornton said in an email. "An investment of $530 million that creates over 1,000 jobs is very important. I hope that other Chinese manufacturers and businesses will take a look at LaGrange and Georgia for their future plans."

"We are very happy to select LaGrange for the location of our North American manufacturing," Executive Vice-President Rami Helminen said in a statement when the announcement was made. "The education systems and high quality workforce complement our leading edge technology."

Sentury makes tires for cars, pickups, and aircraft under the Sentury, Delinte and Landsail brands. Its parent company, Qingdao Sentury Tire Co Ltd, is based in Qingdao in Shandong province, employs 2,500 people worldwide and currently has manufacturing operations in Qingdao and Thailand.

Sentury said it specializes in the advanced manufacturing of tires in which robotics plays a key role in the production process. The company said Sentury is now ranked among the top 75 tire companies in the world.

"When Sentury Tire connected with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, we knew they were focused on being in the right spot. Their commitment to locate in LaGrange speaks to Georgia's business-friendly climate and the strong relationship we maintain with our economic partners in China," Nico Wijnberg, director of international investment for the department said in an email.

Wijnberg said Sentury will be eligible for a variety of tax credits, including some tied to the creation of the 1,000 jobs.

Sentury's LaGrange facility will be 16 miles from a plant owned by Kia Motors in West Point, Georgia, and about 95 miles from a Hyundai factory near Montgomery, Alabama.

In 2015, Chinese companies Linhai Powersports and Ningbo Huige Outdoor Products Co. Ltd, announced plans to establish US and North American operations in Gwinnett County, which is located near Atlanta.

Georgia has aggressively pursued Chinese investment. The state has had a trade office in China for about 10 years and moved the office to Qingdao in 2013.