By Patrick Raleigh, ERJ On-line new editor
Belfast, Northern Ireland-Groupe Michelin is to carry out a Â£14.5-million (Euro22-million) upgrade of its truck and bus tyre plant manufacturing facility in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland has announced.
The government agency is contributing Â£2.7 million in Selective Financial Assistance to the project, which will help to underpin the future of the 1200-employee plant, according to an Invest NI statement. The facility has a capacity of 950 000 tyres/year, according to ERJ's 2003 Global Tyre Report.
The investment will principally go towards the introduction of new technology at the plant. This will â€œsubstantially increase the capability, productivity and efficiency of what is currently the largest truck and bus tyre plant in the UK,â€ said a 4 Aug Invest NI statement.
â€œThis investment, which could have gone to a number of Michelin plants in Europe, represents a vote of confidence in Northern Ireland by a major global player,â€ said Barry Gardiner MP, Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister,
â€œMichelin Tyre has been a key investor in Northern Ireland for 35 years and has invested substantially in training. The result is a highly skilled workforce with the ability to embrace change and innovation,â€ Gardiner added in press statement.