COLUMBIA, SC — South Carolina lost its bid to become home to Hankook Tire’s first North American plant. The company announced in a press release Monday that it had chosen Clarksville, Tenn., to build the manufacturing plant. The company will invest more than $800 million and create 1,800 full-time jobs.
The South Korean tire maker – with its U.S. headquarters in Wayne, N.J. -- is expected to begin production in Clarksville by 2016. Company officials cited the regions’ access to railways, airports, interstates and the Mississippi River as reasons for choosing that location.
Company officials last month at a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, had said they were considering sites in South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia for the new plant, according to a Reuters report.
Gov. Nikki Haley and Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt also recently led an economic development trip to the world’s largest auto show in Frankfurt, Germany, last month, where Hankook was expected to be represented. The delegation planned more than 50 meetings during the trip, but Hitt would not say if Hankook was among them.
South Carolina has landed several major tire plants over the past couple of years, promising billions in investment and thousands of new jobs. Those include a new plant being built by Continental Tire in Sumter, a major expansion of the Bridgestone tire plant in Aiken, an expansion of the Michelin plant in Lexington and a new Michelin manufacturing facility in Anderson County.
South Carolina is the No. 1 tire exporter in the United States and is on track to unseat Oklahoma as the top tire producer in the nation.