Continental Tire opened its all-new manufacturing plant in Sumter on Tuesday.
The company invested more than $500 million into the Sumter plant and has hired 400 people so far. Continental hopes to eventually create about 1,600 new jobs.
Continental executives hope to make approximately 5 million units per year at the 500-acre facility by 2017. Continental hopes the plant will have 570 total employees by the end of 2014.
“The opening of this plant is a very important milestone for our goal of growing our tire business in the United States,” Nikolai Setzer, head of parent company Continental AG’s global tire business, said. “This beautiful new facility contains the highest level of machinery and technology to produce the best car and light truck tires possible. And, most importantly, we began to produce tires three months ahead of schedule.”
Gov. Nikki Haley joined other dignitaries for the opening ceremony, which was held inside the plant and thus avoided the bitter cold 35 degree temperature outside. State Rep. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, called the new plant a “game-changer” for Sumter. “This is one of the largest investments we’ve had by any company in Sumter County,” he told WDXY Radio. “So this is a very proud day. It’s a partnership we started three years ago and now is coming to fruition.”
Continental rolled out its first test tires last year. The plant is expected to be completely built and fully operational by 2021.
Derek Burress of WDXY-AM in Sumter contributed to this report