Posted on September 23, 2013.
In about two years, Yokohama Tire Corp. will roll out the first tire from its $300 million manufacturing plant in West Point. It will be Yokohama’s first ground-up facility in the U.S., and it also represents the fastest construction time of any Yokohama plant to date.
“Yes, we are moving quickly,” said Tadaharu Yamamoto, president of Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi.
And speed has been key to the project all along.
Take Yamamoto, who just wrapped up his first week in his new role on Monday. Before being name the president of the plant here, he led Yokohama’s plant in the Philippines. That facility, which produces 7 million tires a year, is the sister plant for YTMM. The West Point plant will produce 1 million tires annually during the first phase of construction and manufacturing, which will lead to 500 jobs. Officials hope for three additional phases to add another 1,500 jobs and another $700 million in investment.
Yamamoto said the main difference between the two plants is Yokohama Mississippi will build bus and truck tires. The Philippines plant produces passenger and light truck tires.
“Building truck tires is very different,” he said. “The capacity in the Philippines is 3,000 tires a day; here we will be building 1,000 tires per day.”
With the additional expansions, the plant could build as many as 4 million tires a year.
And while Yamamoto and other company officials talked about the speed at which the plant would be up and running,
state officials also noted the speed at which the deal was done.
Brent Christensen, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, said talks with Yokohama went quickly over a relatively compressed time period for a project of this magnitude.
Some 3,000 counties across the country were vying for the project, but state officials were told only the finalists would be invited to visit the company’s headquarters in Japan.
“I visited Japan three times in six months, and while I don’t know how many finalists there were, we got our invitation to visit in February,” Christensen said.
Other sites in Mississippi were reviewed but passed over, and Yokohama’s site selection teamzeroed in on the 500-acre Prairie Belt Powersite.
Meanwhile, here are a couple of photos from today’s groundbreaking ceremony:
Engraved shovels and hardhats are in place before the ceremonial ground-breaking sent for Yokohama
Gov. Phil Bryant, with Yokohama Tire President Hikomitsu Noji and other officials prepare to scoop some dirt for the ground breaking.