BLYTHEWOOD,SC — The Koyo Corp. ball and roller bearing plant in Blythewood will undergo a $130 million expansion, bringing an additional 175 jobs to the area and doubling the size of its plant, the manufacturer said Tuesday.
JTEKT Corp., an automotive systems and industrial components supplier, said it will expand its Koyo brand over the next three years, growing the plant to more than 500,000 square feet and an estimated more than 400 employees.
The plant has grown quietly over the years after locating in Blythewood in 1995. This is the company’s second expansion announcement in less than a year. Last December, plant officials announced a $20 million expansion that would create 25 jobs. In December 2008, Koyo announced a $30 million expansion – but no new jobs – to add two production lines. At that time, it had an estimated 220 employees at the Blythewood plant.
“It’s certainly a positive trend for that location,” said Nelson Lindsay, director of economic development for Richland County, who added that 2012 has been a strong year for companies looking to locate or expand in the county.
Koyo officials said they needed to expand to meet growing customer demand and they choose the Blythewood location out of a large number of possible locations.
“Customer demand continues to increase for our bearing products, and this expansion will provide the capacity needed to meet this demand,” plant manager Bobby Rowell said in a statement.
Koyo manufactures bearing hub units for automotive customers including Toyota, BMW and General Motors.
“This is a great announcement for our Richland County plant,” Steve McCullough, JTEKT vice-president and general manager, said in a statement. “Many locations were considered for this large capital investment by JTEKT. One of the key reasons we selected this location was the collaborative effort of Richland County, the town of Blythewood, the state of South Carolina and South Carolina Electric & Gas.”
Efforts to reach company officials for further comment were unsuccessful Tuesday.
Since January 2011, South Carolina has recruited more than $4.4 billion in capital investment and more than 6,800 jobs in the automotive-related sector, according to the S.C. Department of Commerce.
“South Carolina continues to prove to companies from around the globe that it is the right place to do business,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement.
Construction at the Koyo plant is expected to begin in early January, with hiring starting later during 2013.
“The manufacturing renaissance continues to grow in South Carolina, especially with announcements in the automotive sector, like this one,” Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt said in a statement. “The automotive industry continues to be a creator of wealth and a source for good jobs throughout the Palmetto State.”