SUMTER — The Continental Tire the Americas plant in Sumter reached a major construction milestone this week, as workers installed the final steel beam in the facility.
With South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt on hand, as well as about 60 others – a combination of public and company officials – construction workers lifted the beam, painted with company colors and signed by dignitaries and employees into place Tuesday.
The ceremony comes 11 months after the plant’s initial groundbreaking on the 330-acre facility just south of downtown along U.S. 521, and confirms the 1-million square-foot facility has now been completely framed.
Plant manager Craig Baartman said this latest step now brings the facility to about 60 percent completion, keeping the plant on schedule to be finished by the end of the year.
Eventually, Continental plans to make a $500 million capital investment in the Sumter facilities, employing around 1,600 people to produce an estimated 8 million tires annually. The target date for those figures, however, is not until 2021.
For now, the company’s focus remains on getting this first phase of the facility up and running.
Baartman said Continental also is receiving key equipment to install under its new roof, while hiring both management and production staff to be trained for the start of production next year.
Around 300 people will be hired in 2013, Baartman said, with many of these employees being sent to other Continental plants around the world later this year for training. The plant manager also said about 95 percent of the production employees hired so far have been from within the state.