“Patience is a virtue” says the old saw, and Macon has been patiently waiting for Kumho Tire to fulfill its commitment to build the company’s fourth plant, the first in the U.S. Actually, we had no other choice but to wait. When the $225 million plant was announced back in 2008, no one knew that the world was about to fall off the financial cliff. Formerly stable titans of industry were falling like flies. One of those industries that Kumho depends on is the auto industry. Gone are the heady days of the 1950s when, in the misquoted words of former GM President Charles E. Wilson: “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”
GM was on the verge of going under along with Chrysler. While Kumho mainly sells its tires to Kia and Hyundai, the American public, with layoffs hitting every employment sector, stopped buying cars. But that was only part of it. The banking industry was in no mood to finance large or small projects, and the company, like many others, had to restructure its debt. Now, with a growing economy, Kumho is back on track. However, more patience is needed. Construction won’t begin until 2015 and tires won’t start rolling out of Sofkee Industrial Park until 2016 at the earliest.
The plant will be looking to fill 300 good paying jobs. Central Georgia Technical College is already in the loop to prepare the workforce for Kumho’s arrival. Students in high school need to start developing technical and math skills.
As president of Kumho Tire North America Harry Choi said at the announcement, “Sometimes the best things in life are worth waiting for.”