Yokohama Tire Corp.(YTC) broke ground Monday on a commercial truck tire manufacturing plant in West Point, Miss. The facility is the first manufacturing plant the tiremaker has built from the ground up in the United States.
Hikomitsu Noji, president and chief executive officer of YTC, described the event as being like a “wedding” in the partnership between Mississippi and Yokohama, with the “baby” coming in just months. The TBR plant is expected to roll out its first tire in October 2015.
Overseeing the most aggressive time table for a Yokohama plant ever will be Tadaharu Yamamoto, president of the newly formed Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi (YTMM). During plant construction, YTMM will have its operational headquarters in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park in nearby Starkville, Miss. Following construction YTMM will be the entity responsible for operations at the plant.
With approximately 570 acres of land, phase one of Yokohama’s overall plan for the site includes a $300 million investment. The roughly 1 million-sq.-ft. factory will include production, warehousing and operations facilities. In addition the site will be able to produce more than one million tires annually and create 500 new jobs.
If the tiremaker continues with its potential phases, up to four build outs, the plant’s capacity could quadruple, with Yokohama investing more than $1 billion and adding up to 2,000 jobs.
Currently Yokohama’s TRB needs are serviced by YRC plants in Japan and Thailand as well as stateside through its joint venture GTY Tire Co. at Continental Tire the America’s plant in Mt. Vernon, Ill. During interviews prior to the groundbreaking, Yokohama execs said the tiremaker plans to continue its partnership in GTY and tires from the new plant will supplement its current supply in order to help meet the U.S.’s increasing demand.
Which tires will specifically be manufactured at the plant have still not been decided.
Additionally, this weekend included YTMM giving back to its newest neighbors, donating $500,000 to two local universities. Mississippi State University and East Mississippi Community College will each receive $250,000 from the tiremaker, it announced the evening before the ground breaking.
More than 350 people were in attendance for the ground breaking, with several local, state and federal representatives.
Yokohama announced it would be building the manufacturing plant in April, signing a deal with the state.