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In a photo provided by the North Carolina Governors Office, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, right, speaks to Triangle Tire Chairman Ding Yuhua, center, and his translator Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, at Edgecombe Community College in Tarboro, N.C., after the company announced plans to build a tire plant that would eventually employ 800 workers and produce 6 million tires a year. (North Carolina Governors Office via AP)

Tread on me

Tire makers are adding nearly $3 billion of production plants in the South, including:

› Wanli Tire Corp. is building a $1 billion factory in Orangeburg, S.C. that will employ up to 1,200 workers

› Triangle Tire plans to build a $580 million plant that will employ 800 persons in Edgecombe County, N.C.

› Giti Tire recently opened a new $560 million factory in Richburg, S.C. that is expected to grow to 1,700 employees.

› Sentury Tire is developing a $530 million factory in LaGrange, Ga. that will create 1,000 jobs

› Nokian Tyres is building a $360 million plant in Dayton, Tenn., that will employ 400 workers.

A Chinese tiremaker is moving more aggressively into the U.S. market, announcing plans Tuesday for a North Carolina factory that is to eventually employ 800 and produce 6 million tires a year.

A state committee that administers large corporate tax breaks approved plans to coax Triangle Tire to rural Edgecombe County, about 65 miles east of the state capital of Raleigh. The $580 million plant is the first in the United States for the Weihai, a China-based maker of tires for passenger vehicles, trucks and buses and heavy equipment.

"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 U.S.," said Manny Cicero, CEO of the company's Triangle Tire USA subsidiary.

Triangle Tire could get up to $152 million in state and local tax breaks, worker training and other incentives if it meets hiring targets. The jobs are projected to pay an average wage of $56,450 a year, well above a county average of $32,642.

The company said in a disclosure to the Shanghai Stock Market last month that construction would start next year on a two-phase plan to first build a factory producing 5 million passenger cars a year. That would be followed by production lines churning out 1 million commercial vehicle tires a year. The company added that construction is expected to take two to three years for each project.

The Triangle factory marks at least the third Chinese tiremaker to build production plants in the United States.

Triangle was the third-largest Chinese tire manufacturer based on 2015 global sales, according to Tire Business, an Akron, Ohio-based trade newspaper. Triangle ranked 17th among tire companies in worldwide sales, the newspaper estimated.

The plant is to be located on a nearly 1,500-acre site between Rocky Mount and Tarboro, which was offered as a location to potential manufacturers needing lots of space by the economic development groups that assembled it. The site is near the major Interstate 95 road corridor and borders a CSX Transportation rail line. Triangle's operation would use about 400 acres of that site, state Commerce Department spokesman David Rhodes said.

Triangle Tire has exported to the U.S. market for more than two decades and established its U.S. subsidiary in Franklin, Tenn., nearly two years ago, the company's website said.

Its parent company, Triangle Tyre Co. Ltd., manufactures more than 25 million tires a year that are sold in more than 180 countries. The company's manufacturing systems are highly automated and the company is working on tires with built-in chips that monitor and collect information about road conditions, temperature and tire wear and damage.

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