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Bridgestone to invest $1.2 billion in S.C.

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Bridgestone Americas Inc. will construct a new 1.5 million-square-foot off-road radial (ORR) tire manufacturing facility on a greenfield site in Aiken County, S.C. The tire maker will also add a 474,000-square-foot expansion of its existing Aiken passenger and light truck tire plant.

The company previously announced a 266,000- square-foot expansion of this plant in July. When completed, these projects will total a $1.2 billion investment. They will also increase Bridgestone Americas’ workforce in Aiken County by more than 850 jobs.

The ORR greenfield tire plant is a major strategic investment by the global Bridgestone Group to enhance its supply systems, improve its sourcing flexibility and further strengthen the Bridgestone Group’s position as the global leader in the off-road radial tire segment, according to Gary Garfield, vice president and senior officer, Bridgestone Corp., and CEO and president, Bridgestone Americas.

Demand for off-road radial tires is steadily increasing as the need for mineral resources grows due to rapid economic expansion across the globe. The construction of this new ORR plant is consistent with the company’s global sourcing strategy and will strengthen the ability of the global Bridgestone Group to cement its leadership position in this important market segment.

Previously, large and ultra-large ORR tires had been produced exclusively at Bridgestone Corp.’s Shimonoseki and Kitakyushu plants located in Japan. Bridgestone says it can more effectively respond to customer needs and growing global demand by installing ORR production technologies developed in Japan in the new U.S. plant.

The plant will be built with a focus on the environment. The company plans to achieve LEED Construction Certification by incorporating state-of-the-art technology in its facility and equipment design.

The capacity expansion at the existing Aiken County tire plant is intended to meet growing demand in key market segments, including ultra high performance and light truck/SUV tires. The addition of new, more advanced tire building machines will provide the plant with an additional level of versatility. Over the long term Bridgestone says this versatility and flexibility will help the company address customer needs by improving the fill rates of these tires.

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