Tire maker hikes investment


Norris Tolson, president and CEO of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership


Staff Writer

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The largest manufacturing investment in rural North Carolina coming to the Twin Counties is likely to be even larger than anticipated and will break ground soon, according to local economic development officials.

Norris Tolson, CEO and president of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership, was the guest speaker at the first 2018 Rocky Mount Area Chamber legislative forum series sponsored by Pfizer of Rocky Mount on Friday at the Holiday Inn. Chinese tire manufacturer Triangle Tire plans to build its first manufacturing facilities outside of China in Edgecombe County.

The project was announced as a $582 million investment with the creation of 800 jobs coming to the 1,449-acre Kingsboro megasite in Edgecombe County. However, Tolson said, the full build-out of the project will now be a little more than $1 billion and create between 1,100 and 1,200 jobs.

State officials said the project is estimated to contribute more than $2.4 billion to the state’s economy. The average salary for employees will be a little more than $56,000 a year plus benefits — higher than Edgecombe County’s average wage of about $32,000.

“The leadership of the company has increased the footprint on the first phase of the project and told us instead of being $582 million it’s going to be closer to $700 million in the first phase,” Tolson said. “We’re anticipating the second phase will be in the range of between an additional $400 (million) and $500 million. It’s also going to require more employees. We don’t know that exact number, but we think it will be another 300 to 400 employees.”

Tolson said Triangle Tire is planning to break ground sometime in the next 30 days. The first manufacturing facility is designed to produce around 35,000 tires a day, Tolson added.

“The company hopes to be able to bring that first phase in full operation by the end of 2019,” he said. “It’s a really big order, but they’re a very aggressive company and we think they have a shot at that. The first phase will be designed to produce truck and car tires. The company wants to begin construction on the second phrase in the fourth quarter in 2019 so it can be up and running in producing tires in 2021. Those tires are for large trucks and at the minimum 10 foot tall.”

Tolson also touched briefly about Corning Inc,.a world leading innovator in materials science, coming to Edgecombe County. Corning will joined Pfizer as another major pharmaceutical company in the Twin Counties. 

Corning is investing $86 million to build a distribution center that will be located between Rocky Mount and Tarboro and will create 150 jobs. Corning is expected to pay an average salary of around $33,000, and is slated to break ground this summer, Tolson said.

“What is exciting about this project is this is the first of two phases,” Tolson said. “We will also be in the running for a manufacturing portion in about two years, but there is no guarantee.”

Tolson was asked a question from the audience about the status of the CSX intermodal project. He said the giant railroad company is still working its business plan and there are still active negotiations taking place. He said a decision about the direction of the project should come down soon, but he did indicate in his presentation that the project could turn out to be a precision delivery center.

During the end of his presentation, Tolson said the Partnership is involved in 59 active projects covering a variety of cluster sectors. He said there could be three projects likely to be announced in the next 60 days.

Kristi Ikirt, vice president of the Partnership, who recruits for Nash County, told Nash Community College’s board of trustees at the board’s retreat Friday that the Partnership is expecting to make announcements in the next 60 days of more than $30 million in new investments coming to Nash County that will result in more than 200 new jobs coming to the county.