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Michelin earmarks $350 million for plant upgrades in South Carolina

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A new round of investing by Michelin North America Inc. will improve and expand every major manufacturing facility in South Carolina over the next four years.

The $350 million investment will upgrade all the company's manufacturing facilities in Anderson, Greenville, Lexington and Spartanburg counties, and will add approximately 100 new manufacturing jobs to the company's 7,850 current employees in South Carolina.

"With increasing competition from Asian imports and high raw material costs, Michelin will remain competitive in North America by continuing to manufacture tires in more efficient operations with skilled professional employees," says Jim Micali, chairman and president.

Michelin's investment will be divided as follows:

1. Anderson County: increased production of semi-finished materials to support tire manufacturing facilities around North America, and modernization of current equipment at Michelin's Sandy Springs and Starr plants.

2. Greenville County: improvements to the company's tire building facilities in the county.

3. Lexington County: modernization of equipment and increased earthmover tire production at Michelin's Lexington plants.

4. Spartanburg County: increased production of X One wide-base tires and military tire production.

Expansion at some of the affected facilities has just commenced to meet the growing market demand for Michelin tires across several product lines, according to the company. All of these investments will be accomplished between now and the end of 2011.

The newly created manufacturing jobs, representing a net increase after normal attrition and retirement, will be phased in as the expansions progress and new capacities come on-line.

The full Michelin investment and job growth is based on finalizing appropriate agreements with state and county governments.

"Over the last 30 years, Michelin has invested more than $2 billion in South Carolina with excellent results," says Micali. "This is our home, and we have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the state over these past three decades.

"As always, we are grateful to the state legislature for passing the necessary legislation and to county officials for facilitating Michelin's ability to again expand our business and our investment in the state."

Michelin established its first modern plant in the United States in Greenville in 1975. Over the past 30-plus years, that presence has grown substantially to include:

* the company's North American headquarters (Greenville);

* North American research & development headquarters (Greenville);

* a 3,500-plus acre test track (Laurens);

* headquarters for Michelin Retread Technologies (MRT) and TCI Tire Centers LLC (both in Duncan);

* the world's largest semi-finished rubber processing plant (Sandy Springs); and

* tire building facilities in Greenville (two), Lexington (two) and Spartanburg.

In addition to employing nearly 8,000 South Carolinians spread across 37 of the state's 46 counties, Michelin has 2,650 retirees in the state. More than one-third of the company's 22,000 employees are based in South Carolina.

Michelin and its employees contribute more than $2.4 million and thousands of volunteer hours each year for community programs across the state. In 2006, the company paid more than $30 million in state taxes and purchased more than $300 million in goods and services from 500 South Carolina businesses.

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