Manufacturing is growing in the Carolinas.
Just over the state line Wednesday, a Singapore company called Giti opened its first U.S. manufacturing facility that will supply Wal-Mart stores with Dextero-brand tires that sell for $50-$100. The plant will eventually employ up to 1,700 workers, Giti says.
The opening of the $560 million, 1.7 million square-foot facility was a day filled with back-patting, congratulatory remarks and emotional testimonials, but Walmart says the occasion also highlights the company’s goal of supporting American jobs by buying an additional $250 billion in U.S.-made products by 2023.
When Giti started planning the project about three years ago, the location in Chester County, about 40 miles southwest of uptown Charlotte, was attractive because of its infrastructure, proximity to a major metro area and its skilled workforce, Giti Chairman Enki Tan said.
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“We don’t only want to create jobs; we want to create jobs of the future,” Tan told a gathering of politicians, reporters and Giti workers clad in black-and-yellow T-shirts. After all, the bulk of the jobs at the facility are highly technical, which is why Giti has been working closely with local technical colleges to recruit, he added.
Government leaders in the Carolinas have also been eager to make deals: South Carolina’s incentives package includes $37.8 million to buy and prepare the land, $2 million toward water and sewer preparation, as well as job tax credits. Chester County committed to reducing Giti’s property taxes.
Walmart U.S. President and CEO Greg Foran lauded public-private partnerships to bring manufacturing jobs to the area.
“It makes good economic sense and social sense,” Foran said. “(Giti is) able to provide us a tire which previously was probably made in Indonesia, put on a boat, probably takes eight weeks to move through the supply chain, whereas we can now get this tire at the same price literally the next day.”
Walmart would not say what other kinds of manufacturing jobs could come to the Carolinas from its push for American-made products.
In exchange for the incentives, Giti says it will hire up to 1,700 workers over the next several years in areas such as precision manufacturing. The company currently has 200 workers and plans to double that figure by the end of the year. By the end of 2018, the goal is to reach 1,000. Production started at the Chester plant about two weeks ago.