The Charlotte Observer

August 9, 1995

Goodyear going to Statesville
Tire maker plans $14 million facility at city's industrial park, providing 80 jobs initially; State, Iredell incentives help swing deal

Foon Rhee, Raleigh Bureau, and contributed to by Staff Writer Jim Wrinn, Staff Writer

Copyright © 1995, The Charlotte Observer

Statesville finally landed an anchor tenant Tuesday for its industrial park, a $14 million tire mold plant that will be Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s first new U.S. manufacturing facility since 1983.

Appearing with Gov. Jim Hunt and top Statesville and Iredell County officials, Goodyear Vice President Clay Orme announced that the company plans to start operations at the new plant next spring with 80 employees. Employment could increase eventually to 180.

``We're hopeful that this will be only the beginning,'' said Hunt, who hosted the announcement in his office at the State Capitol in Raleigh.

Orme said Hunt clinched the deal for Statesville - over some 40 sites in five other states - by contributing $180,000 for plant equipment and other needs from his industrial recruiting fund.

That's $1,000 from state taxpayers for each projected new job - about average for the fund, which has given $10 million to 53 companies since 1993. The state issued stricter guidelines in June, after losing $350,000 when two firms went belly-up and after a third used its money to move jobs from one county to another.

Iredell County is chipping in another $100,000, along with helping with water and sewer lines.

The use of such money is growing more controversial.

In a trial that began Monday, an attorney is suing Winston-Salem and Forsyth County to stop them from using taxpayer money to lure new industries. The state, and numerous cities and counties, are helping defend the constitutionality of a state law allowing business incentives.

Goodyear's announcement continues a string of economic good fortune for Iredell, which is already having labor shortage problems. Iredell's unemployment rate was 4.6 percent, or one-tenth below the state average, for June, the most recent month for which figures are available.

In recent months, Lowe's announced plans for a $40 million warehouse north of Statesville and Southern Container Corp. said it will build a $20 million box plant near Mooresville.

Still, local officials were grateful Tuesday since they've had a difficult time luring companies to the Statesville Business and Industrial Park. The city has spent $2.6 million to develop the park on 200 acres 4 miles east of the city.

The industrial park was started three years ago but was vacant until 1994, when Bridgford Foods bought 8 acres for a 43,000-square-foot frozen-food processing and distribution plant. Completion is set for December.

Goodyear plans to build on a site fronting U.S. 70, giving the park a highly visible occupant.

``That will help attract more companies,'' said Jim Lawton, Statesville's mayor pro tem.

Goodyear already has a plant in Asheboro that makes steel wire for truck tires. Its majority-owned tire retreading subsidiary, Brad Ragan Inc., is headquartered in Charlotte, and its Kelly-Springfield subsidiary has a plant in Fayetteville.

The Statesville plant will bring Goodyear's total investment in the state to more than $150 million and jobs to more than 4,700.

The Statesville plant will use new processes to make molds and parts for passenger car and truck tires. Tires are shaped and given their tread designs in the molds, which cost as much as $35,000 each. The molds are then put into presses, which use heat and pressure to vulcanize the rubber in tires.

The final size of the plant's work force will depend on demand for tires made from the mold, Orme said. Goodyear also has tire mold plants in Ohio, Brazil and Luxembourg.

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Copyright © 1995, The Charlotte Observer.

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