Tire plants put area in spotlight


Staff Writer

Monday, May 21, 2018

The announcement last year of a Chinese tire company expanding its operations into the Twin Counties recently was recognized by a media publication as one of the top 15 economic development projects of 2017 in the country.

Triangle Tire Co.’s plans to build its first manufacturing facilities outside of China at the 1,449-acre Kingsboro Megasite in Edgecombe County was selected by Trade & Industry Development as one of its Corporate Investment CiCi Awards recipients.

Triangle Tire’s announcement was hailed by North Carolina officials as the largest ever manufacturing investment in rural North Carolina. Triangle Tire is reportedly investing $580 million and creating 800 jobs in the county by 2023. Norris Tolson, president and CEO of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership, has said the full build-out of the project will likely be a little more than a $1 billion investment by Triangle Tire and create between 1,100 and 1,200 jobs.

The project is estimated to contribute more than $2.4 billion to the state’s economy. The Edgecombe County operation is expected to pay an average wage of $56,450, which is almost double the county’s average wage of $32,642.

Triangle will build tire manufacturing facilities in two phases at the Kingsboro Megasite. A passenger tire facility will be phase one and a commercial tire facility will be phase two. The company expects to complete both phases by 2023. Once both facilities reach production capacity, Triangle expects to produce six million tires annually.

Don Williams, a member of the board of directors of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership and president of Lewis Advertising, said Triangle Tire has significance for the Twin Counties for a variety of reasons.

“One of the best opportunities we now have is to develop plans to work with the vendors who are serving the company in China,” Williams said. “The Partnership is working with these supplier companies and offering them sites to consider in our two counties near Triangle’s Kingsboro Plant.”

Tolson said with the Triangle Tire project listed as one of the top 15 economic development projects in the country, the recognition has caused the Partnership to receive a lot of “referral leads.” Williams said it has brought a significant increase in inquiries to the Partnership domestically as well as from both Asia and Europe.

“The staff of the Partnership has never been busier than it is today because there has never been this many prospects being simultaneously helped in the history of our organization,” Williams said.

Earlier this year, the Trump Administration slapped trade sanctions on China, including tariffs and restrictions on investments. Nonetheless, Tolson said he is confident the sanctions won’t prevent the company from moving ahead with the project in the Twin Counties.

“We had the grand announcement in China about a few weeks ago and there was a lot of conversation in China about the sanctions, but this is a project that has very strong interest at the senior level in China. We have no indication at all that there is any challenge to our project from the U.S. and China relations on trade.”

Tolson said because of the company’s aggressive timeline of construction, a groundbreaking ceremony will not take place. He added plans are being arranged to photograph the site, possibly using drones, to help document the construction process.

“This is such a huge project that we want to make sure we have a good historical record of what is taking place during the construction period,” he said.