Tarboro, North Carolina – China's Triangle Group Co. Ltd. will become the latest foreign tire maker to build a factory on US soil, announcing plans on 19 Dec to build its first two North American tire plants on a 1,449-acre tract of land near Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
The Chinese tire maker said phase 1 of the nearly $580-million investment — bolstered by $152 million in state and local incentives — will begin in 2018 with a groundbreaking on a passenger and light truck plant, with an expected capacity of 5 million tires per year.
The second facility, which will sit alongside the passenger tire plant, is expected to produce 1 million truck/bus tires per year.
Weihai, China-based Triangle, which operates five tire plants in China, expects both phases to be completed by 2023, employing up to 800 when fully operational.
The plant will be situated at the Kingsboro Megasite, located about an hour from Raleigh on the Eastern seaboard, just off US Highway 64 and 10 minutes east of I-95. Triangle said CSX Transportation provides rail service to the area.
"We expect that this will provide a huge boost in brand awareness and interest in our products as we continue to expand our presence in the US," said Manny Cicero, CEO of Franklin, Tennessee-based Triangle Tire USA.
Triangle chairman Ding Yuhua and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper made the announcement during a news conference at Edgecombe Community College in Tarboro.
"This significant investment will play a key role in Triangle Tire's growth strategy worldwide and represents a strong commitment to our customers in North America," Mr. Ding said. "We want to thank Governor Cooper and his team for all of their work in making this happen. We are excited to be coming to Edgecombe County."
Ding said the strategic location, the quality of the local workforce and the hospitality from state and local officials were among the factors that helped make the state stand out against other potential sites.
"The more I know about North Carolina, the more strongly I feel North Carolina is the right choice for Triangle," Ding said, noting that Triangle, located in the Shandong Province, is located at the same latitude as North Carolina.
In addition, he said both are situated on the eastern side of their respective countries, both in large agricultural producing areas.
"In addition to its strategic location which provides cost-effective transportation, the citizens of North Carolina are diligent and enthusiastic," Ding said. "The state has a large working age population, healthy economic development environment and well-established education system."
Earlier in the day, the North Carolina economic investment committee voted to approve the incentive package. According to that committee, the other site Triangle was considering was in Laurens County, Georgia, where officials were offering more than $150 million in incentives as well.
Among the incentives awarded by North Carolina are:
$20.1 million from a job development investment grant, spread over 12 years, based on Triangle reaching hiring and investment targets;
$16 million from the One North Carolina fund, which has no conditions;
$15 million from the Golden Leaf fund, which is money set aside to revitalize rural areas;
$4.4 million from community colleges for work training;
$7.9 million from the North Carolina department of transportation for infrastructure improvements;
$2.5 million for the state Railroad fund; and
$85.7 million in local incentives, which includes the land set aside by the state to attract mega manufacturers.
Triangle, which was founded in 1976, manufactures more than 22 million tires annually, according to Mr. Ding, and exports its products to more than 180 countries.
The company is ranked as the 16th largest tire maker worldwide, according to Tire Business' 2017 Global Tire Rankings, behind two other Chinese tire makers, Zhongce Rubber Group Co. Ltd. (No. 10) and Giti Tire Pte. Ltd. (No. 13).
Triangle Tire USA was established in January 2016 in Franklin, just south of Nashville, to serve the U.S. market. The company also operates research and development centers in Weihai, China, and Akron.
Triangle joins several other foreign tire makers that have either recently opened or announced plans for their first manufacturing facility in the US, including Giti; Hankook Tire Co. Ltd.; Sentury Tire North America; Nokian Tyres Plc.; and Kumho Tire Co. Inc.