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Tire manufacturer to add thousands of jobs to LaGrange

LaGRANGE — A China-based tire manufacturing company set to locate in LaGrange will initially employ 1,000 people and invest more than half a billion dollars.

Sentury Tire, based in Qingdao, Shandong, China, will locate its American headquarters, research and development, distribution and manufacturing center on 400 acres off Pegasus Parkway at Sewon Boulevard in LaGrange, said Scott Malone, president of the Development Authority of LaGrange.

The company selected the city out of 60 potential communities in 20 states during the first part of the process earlier this year, Malone said. After a months-long selections process, LaGrange was selected in July as one of three finalists and development officials made a final pitch to Sentury officials. The company this week informed state and city officials it had chosen LaGrange for the facility.

The first phase of the project will be an estimated $530 million investment and employ 1,000 people. A second phase is expected to invest an additional $400 million and add 1,000 more personnel, Malone said.

“This is in the caliber of Kia (Motors Manufacturing Georgia),” he said of the scale and impact of the Sentury deal. “… It’s the first major Chinese project for the state of Georgia. That is why the state has put so much effort into supporting us with this process.”

Officials believe winning the Sentury location will open up the possibility of several more Chinese companies locating to the area, Malone said.

“This is a big deal; this is a big deal for our community,” Malone said. “It’s exciting for our community, it validates LaGrange and Troup County as a place to do business, obviously coming off the success of Kia and the history we’ve had in the Fortune 500 companies we’ve had located in our community, this is just a validation of that.”

The Development Authority of LaGrange is expected to issue bonds as part of the deal. Malone said the exact amount is yet to be determined, but it will be in the “hundreds of millions.”

The new facility in LaGrange will support Sentury Tire’s existing customer base in North America.

“Sentury Tire’s commitment to locate in LaGrange speaks to Georgia’s business-friendly climate and the strong relationship we maintain with our economic partners in China” said Gov. Nathan Deal in a press release. “We value Sentury Tire’s investment in Georgia and the vision of the company’s leadership for continued growth in Troup County. I am positive that Georgia’s automotive manufacturing and technology capabilities will be assets to Sentury Tire as the company serves a growing customer base.”

Sentury Tire specializes in the advanced manufacturing of tires for use in the automotive and aerospace industries. The new manufacturing facility will create jobs in production, national sales and marketing, warehousing and distribution. It also is planning to incorporate a research and development center that will employ approximately 100 technical personnel.

“We are very happy to select LaGrange to the location of our North American manufacturing,” said Sentury Tire Executive Vice President Rami Helminen in a written statement. “The education systems and high quality workforce complement our leading edge technology in the production and research and development. … We anticipate production to start in 2018 and will build up to our projected manufacturing capacity of 12 million passenger and light truck tires.”

Sentury Tire products are sold worldwide under the brands Sentury, Landsail and Delinte. About 70 percent of Sentury Tire’s sales are in the European and U.S. markets. Sentury Tire’s parent company, Qingdao Sentury Tire Co. Ltd., based in Qingdao, China, employs 2,500 people worldwide and currently has manufacturing operations in Qingdao and Thailand.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Sentury Tire will make this investment in LaGrange,” said LaGrange Mayor Jim Thorton in a written statement. “Sentury Tire’s decision confirms that LaGrange is one of the best places for international investment in the Southeast. LaGrange is already a regional hub for advanced manufacturing, and our city is currently home to businesses hailing from 10 foreign nations. With Sentury Tire, we are delighted to add China to the long list of foreign nations finding a home in LaGrange.”

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Sentury Tire to make initial $530M investment

Matthew Strother

mstrother@civitasmedia.com

Matthew Strother is the editor of LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2153.