ERJ staff report (SS)
Bloomington, Illinois - Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC will invest at least $12 million (Euro 8.2 million) over the next 5 years at its Bloomington off-the-road (OTR) tyre plant to add capacity for new sizes and expand curing capacity for giant loader tyres.
The expansion, which follows the completion of a new five-year labour agreement, will result in new jobs, including up to 50 this year, the company said, in a 9 Jan statement.
â€œAs we have stated many times, we will continue to invest in our key facilities where there is stability, high productivity and an opportunity to make a reasonable return on investment,â€ said Shawn Rasey, vice president, Bridgestone Firestone OTR, in the statement.
â€œThe Bloomington plant is playing an important role in helping the company serve the needs of our customers who demand world-class heavy-duty tyres,â€ he added.
The expansion of giant tyre loader capacity will be completed by the end of 2008 said the company.
According to Bridgestone the global demand for off road tyres remains strong and â€œWe are expanding our capacity to meet our customers' requirements now and in the future,â€ said Rasey.
Three hundred staff at the Illimois facility, who are represented by the United Steelworkers (USW) recently approved a labour contract extension through to 2012.
Under the agreementall workers will receive the same wage and benefit provisions contained in a separate â€œmasterâ€ contract between the USW and the company covering other BFNT locations.
Bridgestone also is expanding OTR tyre capacity at its other dedicated plant, in Kitakyushu, Japan, as part of a $265 million project to upgrade that plant and build steel cord capacity nearby.