When Giti Tire narrowed its search for its first U.S. tire plant to three sites, any of the three would have worked, company officials said Tuesday.
But what kept the Singapore-based company coming back to Chester County was the variety of people who promoted their community, said Julianto Djajadi, executive vice president for business operations for Giti Tire USA.
The inclusion of business people, volunteers and other residents – in addition to the normal array of politicians and economic development types – showed the commitment of Chester County.
“When it came down to three, it could have gone either way,” Djajadi said Tuesday before departing Rock Hill for the company’s U.S. headquarters in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Djajadi did not disclose the other two locations.
“All could make it work. It came down to the intangibles. Do we feel it’s the right community, we’re going to be there a long time. Do we feel the ‘fit’?”
The variety of people was important for a company that values diversity, Djajadi said. Seven different nationalities are represented on the company’s nine-member management team and company-wide there are about 50 nationalities, he said.
“It helps us become global citizens,” Djajadi said.
With Chester County “having more people involved in the process – we liked that,” he said.
Giti found its “fit” and will build a $560 million plant and create about 1,700 jobs in Chester over the next decade. The plant, announced Monday, will be at the county’s “mega site,” a sprawling 1,000-plus acre parcel off Interstate 77, bounded by S.C. 9 on the north and Old Richburg Road to the south.
The site is ideal for Giti. The interstate gives the tire plant access to the company’s warehouses in Georgia and Texas. Company officials also cited access to the port of Charleston and airports in Columbia and Charlotte in making their decision.
The location, Djajadi, said, puts Giti closer to its customers such as Firestone and Discount tire stores, and Wal-Mart. Now it takes between 60 and 100 days for a Giti tire to make its way from factory to dealer. The average time for competitors is about 20 days, he said.
Five of Giti’s competitors are building or expanding plants in the South: Continental in Sumter; Hankook in Clarksville, Tenn.; Yokohama in West Point, Miss.; Toyo in White, Ga.; and Kumho in Macon, Ga.
To attract Giti, South Carolina offered incentives. The state’s Coordinating Council on Economic Development approved a $37.8 million grant to help purchase and improve the mega site. The Rural Infrastructure Authority approved a $2 million grant to assist with extending water and sewer to the site.
The company also will qualify for job development credits which provide companies with funds – for up to 10 years – to help offset the cost of locating a facility, buying equipment and training employees. The credits are based on the number of jobs created.
The Chester County Council also approved a fee-in-lieu ordinance that will reduce the company’s property taxes. Because the mega site is part of a “multi-county” industrial park, 1 percent of the property taxes will come to York County.
Locating in a multi-county industrial park offers companies the potential of earning an additional $1,000 income tax credit for each job created as a result of the project.
Job tax credits are applied against an employer’s income tax liability and vary from $1,500 to $8,000 per job created depending on a number of factors. The credit can eliminate up to 50 percent of the employer’s state income tax liability.