Oklahoma quickly raises money for Goodyear´s Lawton expansion

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In less than a day, Oklahoma state bonds to fund part of the $250 million expansion of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.´s Lawton, Okla., plant sold out. The offering raised more than $36 million for the project.

The Oklahoma Development Finance Authority -- through A.G. Edwards & Co. Inc., Capital West Securities Inc. and two other brokerage firms -- put the bonds up for sale earlier this week. Fitch Ratings rated the bonds an "A+" buy; Standard & Poor rated them an "A" buy.

As part of an announced expansion of the plant in June 2002, the Oklahoma State Legislature agreed to fund $36 million of the project through a bond issue.

To date, Goodyear has spent $189 million of the $250 million targeted at modernizing the Lawton facility. Goodyear will have anted up an estimated $210 million of the total when the project is completed.

Goodyear doesn’t have a completion date for its expansion plans. “It’s an ongoing project,” says Gary Hearn, communication manager for the Lawton, Okla., plant.

The addition of 175,000 square feet of plant space and 346,000 square feet of warehouse space will increase the plant´s size to 2.4 million square feet. Tire manufacturing capacity is not expected to increase or decrease, although the plant will increase its capability to produce more value-added tires, 17 inches and higher.

Also, some of Goodyear´s Integrated Manufacturing Precision Automated Cell Technology (IMPACT) will be used in Lawton.

According to Modern Tire Dealer´s 2004 Facts Issue, the non-union plant has the cabability to produce 60,000 passenger tires and 2,000 light truck tires a day.

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