Kumho Tire will start construction of its long-awaited manufacturing plant in Macon in August, economic development officials and Kumho representatives announced Tuesday.
The plant, to be built on 150 acres in Sofkee Industrial Park, is expected to bring 450 jobs and start tire production in January 2016.
“Today is a great day for our company, and we are very pleased to announce this,” said Harry Choi, Kumho Tire North America president.
The project, first announced in January 2008, was delayed by the subsequent global financial crisis, but the company remained committed to Macon, he said, thanking local officials for their patience and commitment.
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“We are proud to call Macon a Kumho hometown,” Choi said. This will be the Korean-based company’s first U.S. plant.
Initially, construction was pushed back to late 2009 or early 2010, but in fall 2009 it was delayed until the fourth quarter of 2013.
In September 2013, Choi said production wasn’t expected to start until 2016, so Tuesday’s announcement moves the schedule up to the beginning of 2016. Choi said last year that production could start at 3 million tires per year, with the potential for 10 million.
The original announcement called for a $225 million factory, but on Tuesday officials said Kumho will invest up to $413 million in the project.
“You know, some things in life are worth waiting for,” said Cliffard Whitby, chairman of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority.
Jobs at Kumho will pay “$40,000 and up,” with an average of $45,000, he said.
“These are very good jobs,” Whitby said. The 450 promised jobs are “just the beginning,” he said. Central Georgia Technical College will handle hiring through its Quick Start training program, Whitby said.
The announcement at the Macon Marriott City Center came after a half-hour private meeting of Kumho executives with the industrial authority. About 80 people -- legislators, economic development agency heads and government staff -- gathered to hear the news in the hotel’s Magnolia Ballroom.
It’s especially gratifying that Macon-Bibb County was selected by a leading international manufacturer for its first North American plant, Mayor Robert Reichert said.
“The teamwork here is what really attracted Kumho,” he said.
Reichert thanked state economic development officials for their assistance, including incentives.
A state grant helped prepare the site for development, and local property taxes will be phased in over 20 years for an estimated incentive of $17 million.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.