Yokohama’s truck tires now made in America

Hikomitsu Noji, president and representative director of The Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd., Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and other dignitaries at the opening of the Mississippi plant. Credit: Yokohama Tire.

Yokohama’s truck tires now made in America.

Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi officially opened its $300 million commercial truck tire facility in West Point, Mississippi, this month.

The facility was two years in construction and has already hired 260 employees with a view to eventually employ 500.

It’s the first U.S. plant to be built from the ground up by the Japanese company. It will eventually be one of three, with phases two and three expected to bring the total investment by Yokohama to $1.2 billion with a total workforce of 2,000 people.

“The grand opening of our first U.S.-built plant is truly a historic day for Yokohama,” said Tadaharu Yamamoto, president of YTMM. “Thanks to Governor Bryant, the great state of Mississippi, the entire community of West Point, the Golden Triangle Region and the incredible Mississippi workforce, the plant site was developed to a fully operational state-of-the-art facility in record time.”

In 2013 the Mississippi Legislature approved assistance for the project for the purchase of a 500-acre site for the facility, site preparation, infrastructure needs and workforce training.

The project was supported with incentives by the Mississippi Development Authority,  which also lists Cooper Tire, Toyota and Nissan as automotive success stories generating employment and income in the state. The plant’s development was also supported by the city of West Point, Clay County, the Golden Triangle Regional Development LINK and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Tire manufacturing jobs in America

Replacement tire sales in the U.S. represent a $37.4 billion industry, but rather alarmingly imports of tires from China increased by 17 percent last year. Last year Yokohama represented 0.9 percent of the U.S. and Canadian consumer market share.

Census figures show tire manufacturing employment on a decline, down from 72,189 in 1997 to 57,689 in 2007. But the value of production has increased in that time, from $15.7 billion to $18.3 billion.

According to Marketwatch, companies are coming back to the U.S., with a net increase of 10,000 jobs in 2014 – the first net increase in manufacturing jobs in 20 years.

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