Wilson, NC — In January, Bridgestone America Tire Operations announced it’s investing an additional $180 million in its Wilson manufacturing facility, bringing its total investment in the facility to $344 million over the next decade. The 50,000-square-foot expansion will allow the company to meet the global demand for higher rim diameter tires and will house a new rubber mixer. The investment is expected to increase daily plant capacity by 3,000 tires, bringing daily production to 35,000 tires per day when production begins in 2018.
Thanks to the state’s rich plastics and chemicals sector— which includes companies like DAK Americas, Dow and Technimark —innovations in North Carolina’s tire industry extend beyond manufacturing, as industry giants like Yokohama look to North Carolina for their R&D operations. Last year, the company announced it will open tire R&D operations in Concord, investing $2.7 million over three years with a focus on tire design, thereby accelerating the company’s ability to deliver new tire products to manufacturers and consumers nationwide.
Bridgestone and Yokohama are just two examples of tire companies that are supported by North Carolina’s rich plastic and chemicals sector. Along with the one of the largest plastics and chemical manufacturing workforces in the U.S., North Carolina provides businesses, particularly those looking to produce tires and other rubber products, with unrivalled incentives and benefits, including:
North Carolina has a large and well-educated workforce, with more than 75,000 jobs in plastic and chemical manufacturing, making it the fifth-largest and fifth-most highly concentrated workforce in the U.S. for the industry. While labor costs in North Carolina are 10 percent below the national average, the right-to-work state has the second lowest unionization rate in the U.S. at just three percent. Additionally, the plastic and chemical manufacturing workforce has grown by 9.2 percent between 2010 and 2015 – 1.5 times the national average. North Carolina is also home to more than 52 colleges and universities as well as the highest concentration of Tier 1 research universities in the country. Tire manufacturers and other auto parts producers operating in North Carolina have additional access to the Society of Plastics Engineers, the largest plastic professional society in the world, and the Polymers Center of Excellence, which provides technical support and assists the development of emerging technologies within the sector. Tire manufacturers like Bridgestone also benefit from the 20,500 STEM degree and certificates that are issued across the state each year.
North Carolina’s strategic location provides manufacturers with close access to a majority of the North American market. With access to more than 200 million people within a two day’s drive, North Carolina is well connected to the U.S. consumer market and automotive manufacturers across the East Coast. Additionally, North Carolina boasts more than 90,000 miles of state-owned highway (the second largest state-owned highway in the country), two deep-water seaports and the largest consolidated rail system in the U.S., providing access to other major ports and manufacturing hubs throughout the Southeast.
North Carolina’s friendly business environment is stimulated by a low corporate tax rate and affordable operating costs. At three percent, North Carolina has the lowest corporate tax rate in the United States, with Forbes ranking it the No. 2 Best State for Business. Facility operations in North Carolina are also comparatively inexpensive, with industrial electricity rates eight percent less than the U.S. average. With impressive incentive programs at both the state and local levels, North Carolina was No. 2 Top Business Climate by Site Selection Magazine.