Kumho Tire project helped by Industrial Authority

lmorris@macon.comJuly 11, 2014 

The Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority agreed Friday to measures aimed at helping move the Kumho Tire project along its new schedule.

The South Korean company announced last week it would begin building in August the long-awaited tire plant on 150 acres in Sofkee Industrial Park.

The project, first announced in January 2008, was delayed by the worldwide slump in the economy.

The authority agreed it would give the company credit for $160,000 in fees Kumho paid in 2008 to the authority for it to issue up to $375 million in bonds on Kumho’s behalf.

The company has increased the size of its project to at least $413 million “so in order to get there, (Kumho) needs to get some additional bonds issued,” the authority’s attorney Kevin Brown said after the meeting. “So we will do a reissue of the bonds,” which could be up to $425 million, he said.

The company asked for and the authority agreed to a credit for the $160,000 fee it had paid to issue the earlier bonds, he said. Kumho will be responsible for an additional fee to the authority, which will be based on the amount of the new bonds.

The bond issue is a financing mechanism for the company, but the bond issue is administered by the authority and does not involve any money from the county.

The company increased its investment because it increased the size of production and sophistication of its equipment, Brown said. Kumho had planned to produce 3.1 million tires a year and now plans about 4 million tires a year, he said. The building will remain at about 1 million square feet.

The authority also agreed to formally request that about $1.3 million still available from $3.8 million awarded by the OneGeorgia Authority in 2008 be made available to continue site work. Some of the OneGeorgia money was used to grade and prepare the site and put in a building pad, and the remainder was held when the project was put on hold.

Now the remaining funds can be used to put in a rail spur and for other site preparation, Brown said.

The authority also named Stephen Adams, its director of operations, as the Kumho project manager.

Also Friday, the authority increased the fee it initially charges a company when it wants the authority’s help in acquiring bonds for a project. The authority approved a fee of $1,000 – up from $100 it now charges – to begin the bond-issue process. Brown said he compared fees other counties charge, which varied from zero to more than $3,000.

“I think it needs to be $1,000 at least,” said authority member Robby Fountain. “All we are trying to do is recoup our costs.”

The authority agreed it would apply the $1,000 to its administrative fee once the bond goes through.

The authority also welcomed new member Walt Miller, director of operations for Giga Inc., a Macon defense supply company.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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