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More on Hankook’s Tennessee Plant Announcement

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Yesterday’s long awaited announcement of Hankook Tire Co.’s selection of a site for its first U.S. tire plant – its eighth overall – brought to a close some five years of speculation, talks that only heated up more as its Hankook Tire America Inc. unit grew past $1 billion in annual sales.

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Hankook Vice Chairman and CEO Seung Hwa Suh and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

Hankook Vice Chairman and CEO Seung Hwa Suh and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

Hankook Vice Chairman and CEO Seung Hwa Suh and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

Now Clarksville, Tenn., a city of 145,000 people located just northwest of Nashville and hard on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, has emerged the winner of the $800 million project that is expected to bring 1,800 new jobs to the area.

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Montgomery County is giving Hankook some 470 acres of land through a complex internal government sale of the $28.6 million parcel, according to local media. The state and local financial package also includes some $50 million in tax abatements, but county officials estimate that the new plant will generate $65 million per year in new local tax revenues.

Groundbreaking for the 1.5-million-square-foot passenger and light truck/SUV tire plant is slated for late 2014, and the plant will be in commercial production in 2016, Hankook said. When it reaches full capacity in 2018, the plant will be turning out 11 million tires per year.

“The auto sector is a key industry cluster where Tennessee has a distinct advantage with more than 900 auto suppliers and manufacturers, and today’s announcement reinforces our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs,” Gov. Bill Haslam said.

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‘Every state would like to have these 1,800 new jobs,” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), said in a separate statement.”Hankook’s decision is more evidence that Tennessee’s right-to-work environment is the right home for companies around the world that want to make in the United States what they sell in the United States.”

While local government officials were all abuzz with pride, Hankook itself recognized the gravity of the announcement. Vice chairman and CEO Seung Hwa Suh called the Tennessee facility the tiremaker’s “most important plant,” and that, “We will be able to provide our customers, consumers and car makers with high quality tires and industry leading service to meet the demands of the American market.

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“When deciding on a site for this plant, we were moved by the enthusiasm shown by the government of Tennessee,” Suh said. “The government of Tennessee has kindly advised us for the past year, and for that I offer everyone here my deep gratitude.”

Suh continued, “Besides the strong support of the government, there were two reasons why we chose Tennessee to be the site of our first plant in America. The state of Tennessee is the center of commerce. It is placed in an optimal location with superior transportation infrastructure such as highways, airports, waterways, and railroads.

“Tennessee is also known for housing intellectuals,” he said. “These individuals will help Hankook Tire provide high quality American made tires to all drivers and help accomplish our milestone of achieving success in America.”

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