Gov. Nathan Deal was on hand to mark the occasion, as were Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor, County Administrator Peter Olson, state Senator-elect Bruce Thompson, state Rep. Christian Coomer, former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, Commissioner of Georgia Department of Economic Development Chris Carr, Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini, numerous representatives for Bartow County’s economic development authorities and the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce and invited guests.
Toyo Tire North America Manufacturing President Jim Hawk announced the expansion would add approximately 450 jobs by 2015 and an additional 250 jobs by 2017. A press release from the governor’s office announced a total of 650 new jobs over a period of four years. During the presentation, Hawk cited an investment of $275 million, while the press release stated a total of $371 million would be invested over four years.
In comparison, the numbers announced Friday are larger initial estimates released in August. The August press release initially estimated a 470,000-square-foot expansion with 450 jobs created. The investment was then projected at $210 million.
With a number of employees present for the groundbreaking, Deal thanked them for their work.
“I see we have many of the workers who are here. I want to thank you because you are what really makes a company work. You are what makes it efficient, and your work is what makes economic development,” he said. “I can assure you that without your dedicated hard work we would not be hearing the announcement we’re hearing today.”
Deal stated Georgia needs to develop well-paying jobs through industry, and he acknowledged Bartow County’s contributions to the statewide effort.
“I wanted to thank both Bartow County and Cartersville. You’ve done more than your share, quite frankly, and I’m proud of you. I know you’re proud of yourselves,” he said.
Following the groundbreaking, guests returned to the Clarence Brown Conference Center where Hawk, Taylor and Don Waterhouse, the plant’s human resource manager, briefly spoke on the groundbreaking. Hawk thanked the local authorities for their support while Taylor thanked the company for its charitable work and highlighted the company’s importance to Bartow County. Toyo is now the number two employer in the county, Taylor said, second only to Shaw Industries.
Waterhouse said he enjoyed being able to hire people and give them the chance to earn a good wage. The continuing expansions at the plant, he said, are especially welcome as many of the first Toyo employees had worked for manufacturers that had closed or laid off staff.
“They lost their jobs when the plants closed and the nine years that we’ve been operating, the nine years since I’ve been hired, ... they haven’t had to worry about getting laid off. Now back in 2008, when the economy tanked, we literally — just all over the plant died,” he said.
However, Waterhouse said, Hawk refused to lay off personnel. The plant was undergoing another expansion at the time, so to keep employees working, management started up projects that needed to be done in-house and had not yet been tackled and eliminated all overtime. As the company moves forward with the fourth expansion phase, Waterhouse said it was “a big confidence boost” for employees.
In the press release, Hawk noted employee’s contributions to the plant’s success.
“This plant, and the people who work in it, play an important role in supporting consumers and our dealers as the demand for our products continues to grow. This fourth expansion will help us answer that demand,” he said.