Tire headquarters to roll this way

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By Jenny Hartley

INDIAN LAND – Continental Tire North America will wheel its Charlotte headquarters into a new building in Indian Land next year.

The tire manufacturer will move 300 employees to a 75,000-square-foot building at McMillan Business Park on S.C. 160, an $11 million investment. Contractors have begun clearing land for the building, and construction is expected to be completed in early 2009.

"We are certainly pleased to have Continental Tire locate the company's North American office in Lancaster County," said Keith Tunnell, president of the Lancaster County Economic Development Corp. "The project is one of several headquarters and back-office operations that have recently located in Lancaster County. We look forward to a long, prosperous relationship with the company." eeee

The tire manufacturer will receive a 95 percent rebate on property taxes for its first year in the county, and a 65 percent rebate the second year in business here, Tunnell said. This is a typical incentive offered to a corporate headquarters project, Tunnell added.

The new facility is being developed by Forsite Development Inc. Continental already has facilities in Columbia and Blythewood.

Once the Lancaster County facility is complete, Continental will employ more than 750 in South Carolina.

The corporation employs 150,000 at nearly 200 locations in 36 countries.

Its production and warehouse facility, which employs about 160, is under lease and will remain in Charlotte. eeee

"The move to South Carolina is an important step in our overall growth strategy at Continental Tire," said Dr. Alan Hippe, company president and chief financial officer. "We will be able to put (Continental) in an enhanced competitive position and continue to invest in growing our business and our customer base." eeeeContinental Corp. is a leading automotive supplier with manufacturing and research facilities in 27 countries, said state Secretary of Commerce Joe Taylor. He said the company's decision to locate its headquarters in Lancaster County is a "strong testament to the state's business-friendly climate."

A Continental Tire plant in Charlotte once employed more than 1,400 workers, including many from Lancaster County. The plant closed in 2006.

Disgruntled former employees?

County Councilman Rudy Carter said he's heard from a few disgruntled former employees about the headquarters' move to Lancaster County. But Carter said he looks at it from a practical standpoint.

"They're (the company) going to move one way or another," he said. "If we can get some of those tax dollars back, more power to us."

County Council approved offering incentives to the company last August, Carter said. Council will vote on final approval of the incentives at one of its March meetings.

Councilman Bryan Vaughn said it's difficult to get excited about a corporate office project when many of the jobs are transfers.

"I don't know how many jobs it's going to create," he said. "We have plenty of people who need to go to work and can't go to work. We need to recruit jobs that our people can go right into. We need start-up jobs "we don't need job transfers."

Contact Jenny Hartley at 283-1151 or jhartley@thelancasternews.com