An automotive supply company with plants around the world will invest $44 million in a new manufacturing facility in Fountain Inn.
Tower International, which has its headquarters in Livonia, Michigan, will move into a 206,000 square foot speculative building in the Southchase Industrial Park.
The new plant should create 130 jobs, said Derek Fiebig, Tower International’s Executive Director of Investor and External Relations.
“We should start moving equipment there in the middle of next year and production will actually start in 2017,” Fiebig said.
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Tower International supplies body-structure stampings, frames, and other chassis structures, as well as complex welded assemblies for cars, crossovers, pickup trucks and SUVs.
The $44 million investment is one of Greenville County’s highest dollar investment projects announced this year.
“That’s a lot of money for these kind of things,” said Greenville County Councilman Butch Kirven. “It will have an impact, but what it really does is show that we have a solid future in the automotive manufacturing sector of our economy here.”
Fiebig said the plant will make complex assemblies. “Because large assemblies are not well suited for shipping, we typically locate our assembly facilities in the general vicinity of our customers’ assembly facilities,” he said.
Tower’s customers include BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, Chrysler, Volvo, Nissan, Fiat, Toyota and Honda.
Kirven said Southchase Industrial Park is just about full with the addition of Tower. Its location was the only spec building available.
“It came along at the right time because Tower International was looking in this market and it fit their needs,” Kirven said. “It’s a good thing for Fountain Inn, Simpsonville and the whole area.”
Mark Farris, President and CEO of the Greenville Area Development Corporation, said Tower will qualify for fee-in-lieu of tax incentives designed to encourage and reward new industrial investment and job creation.
“Tower’s plans to occupy the Patillo speculative building in Southchase shows that Greenville has the ability to attract technology-intensive automotive suppliers who demand a skilled workforce," Farris said. “The fact that the company will choose a speculative industrial building also points to the demand we have for new industrial space in Greenville County.”
Kirven said he got the chance to meet with Tower officials when they visited Greenville to talk with the county’s finance committee. He came away impressed.
“They are first-class folks,” Kirven said. “They’re going to be good citizens for the Greenville area.”
In March of 2015, Tower was named one of North America’s “Most Trustworthy Companies” by Forbes Magazine and was one of four companies out of 5,500 to earn the highest possible score.
Tower currently has 13 plants in North America after facilities opened in Kentucky and Mexico in 2014. Outside of two plants apiece in Kentucky and Mississippi, the Fountain Inn location will be Tower’s only other in the Southeast.
“Tower International’s expansion in South Carolina is an important part of the expected future growth of our North American operations,” Fiebig said. “We look forward to establishing our footprint in the Palmetto State and are most appreciative of the support we have received from the Greenville Area Development Corp., Greenville County and the state of South Carolina.