The rubber is about to hit the road in Berkeley County.
Tire importer TBC Corp. announced Monday that it has picked a site near Summerville for a 1.1 million-square-foot distribution center that will become one of the largest customers for the Port of Charleston.
Construction is expected to begin by the end of the year, with completion set for late 2010. The warehouse will handle imported and domestic tires and prepare them for delivery to dealers throughout the Southeast.
"We are excited about the opportunity to consolidate a portion of our distribution network to a new and larger facility in the Charleston area," said Erik R. Olsen, president and chief executive of TBC's wholesale business.
"The infrastructure and location of the Port of Charleston complements our growth and will allow us to meet the growing demands of our customers."
The building will be one of the largest of its kind along the S.C. coast, and it will mark the first tenant in a new industrial park being built along I-26 in the Jedburg area by the Rockefeller Group and MeadWestvaco Corp.
Florida-based TBC said it expects to start operations in Berkeley County in late 2010. It will create at least 100 direct jobs.
The Post and Courier reported Thursday that TBC, code-named Project Neptune, was expected to make an announcement about the distribution business this week.
Gov. Mark Sanford has scheduled a visit to North Charleston for today to welcome a new business.
TBC was courted intensely by at least three states. Savannah and the Norfolk, Va., area also were competing for the investment and jobs.
An official in Virginia said last week that South Carolina prevailed partly because it put up the most aggressive bid. Details of the incentive package were not available.
Among those participating in the negotiations were Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor, State Ports Authority chief executive officer Jim Newsome, former SPA chief John Hassell, Berkeley County supervisor Dan Davis and at least four state senators: Paul Campbell, Larry Grooms, Hugh Leatherman and Glenn McConnell.
The sense of urgency stemmed from the state's double-digit unemployment rate, as well the 20 percent drop in business at the Port of Charleston.
Officials are banking on TBC becoming a catalyst for other business activity along the I-26-Jedburg corridor, where numerous maritime-related warehouse projects have been proposed.
"It's a very important transaction for the region," said Ken Seeger, president of MeadWestvaco's development business. "That's why everybody on the team worked so hard to make this happen."
He also called the TBC deal "a huge win for the port."
"It validates their new strategy, and it validates the Port of Charleston as really one of the premier ports on the East Coast," Seeger said.