A South Korean tire company is eyeing South Carolina as a possible location for its first U.S. plant, and though it's unknown if Aiken would be an option, it's good news for the Palmetto State, according to the area Economic Development Partnership.
According to Reuters, Hankook Tire Co. is considering South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia as locations for a new plant. The company's chief executive Cho Hyun-Shick said earlier this month they hope to make a final decision by the end of 2013.
According to its website, Hankook distributes tires for passenger vehicles, light trucks and SUVs, as well as medium truck and bus tires in the United States.
Will Williams, director of Economic Development Partnership for Aiken and Edgefield counties, said South Carolina is a “natural fit” for this type of operation due to the state's transportation infrastructure. The railways and interstate are in proximity to the port of Charleston, which is a positive selling point for a lot of these companies, Williams said.
Williams declined to comment specifically if Aiken County was in the running for the Hankook plant.
On Monday, it was announced that South Carolina has tied for second place with Georgia in the top states for “key site selection criteria” in the Area Development magazine's recent survey of site consultants. That means South Carolina and Georgia are second overall in meeting key location requirements companies are seeking.
“Once again, South Carolina is being recognized as a great place to do business,” Gov. Nikki Haley in a press release. “Our workforce development programs continue to be a huge draw for companies, as is our state's overall business-friendly environment. Numerous world-class companies like BMW, Boeing, Continental, Bridgestone and Michelin understand that South Carolina knows what companies need in order to do well here.”
According to a U.S. Commerce Department report released in June, South Carolina has one of the fastest-growing manufacturing sectors in the region and nation.
Manufacturing was key in South Carolina's gross domestic product increase, according to the report, with manufacturing gross domestic product ranked the fastest-growing on the East Coast.
Over the last few years, Aiken County itself has attracted quite a few new companies like Recleim, while some that are already established, such as Bridgestone, have expanded.
Amy Banton is the County beat reporter and has been with the Aiken Standard since May 2010. She is a native of Rustburg, Va., and a graduate of Randolph Macon Woman's College.