Korean Tire Maker’s First U.S. Plant Will Bring 1,800 Jobs To Clarksville

Hankook plans to grow its U.S. brand partly by supplying car makers that have facilities in Tennessee, including GM, Nissan and Volkswagen. (Credit Joey Newcombe / flickr)

Hankook plans to grow its U.S. brand partly by supplying car makers that have facilities in Tennessee, including GM, Nissan and Volkswagen. (Credit Joey Newcombe / flickr)

A Korean tire maker will open its first U.S. factory in Tennessee, hiring a thousand people over the next couple years and 800 more in a second phase.  Hankook Tire is now poised to be the largest private employer in Clarksville.

Governor Bill Haslam says the state started working to attract the $800 million plant more than a year ago, noting the tire maker is growing rapidly.

Hankook supplies fellow Korean companies like Hyundai and Kia.  And Vice Chairman Seung Hwa Suh says they’re becoming more of a household brand by supplying a slew of U.S. carmakers, too.

“By supplying major carmakers, our brand is getting better known in America, as well.  We are supplying to Ford, GM, Chrysler, also Volkswagen USA, Nissan, Toyota, Honda as well.”

Nissan says it uses Hankook tires, among others, on vehicles made at its plants in both Smyrna, Tennessee and Canton, Mississippi.

Deal Comes In The Wake Of Hemlock And Goodyear

Hankook is getting more than a $100 million in combined state and local government incentives.

Tennessee got burned a few years ago on another factory planned near Clarksville.  Hemlock Semiconductor still reaps millions in incentive money, even as trouble in the solar market has idled construction, and the jobs promised are nonexistent.

In Hankook’s case, state officials are careful to say the money will be in reimbursable grants, meaning first the company incurs the cost, then the government pays them back, rather than fronting the money.

Two years ago, another tire plant was shuttered in West Tennessee, when Goodyear laid off nearly two thousand workers in Union City.  Gov. Haslam says it was one of several locations the state shopped to Hankook:

“Our first goal, obviously, was to get them to locate in Tennessee.  Second, there’s places like that have seen a large increase in unemployment: in Union City, where the Goodyear plant was.  At the end of the day, they (Hankook) have to make the call, but we showed them locations throughout the state, including there.”

Officials expect Hankook to break ground on its new plant and start hiring next year.

EARLIER

Staff Report

Executives with Hankook made the announcement with Tennessee officials in Clarksville Monday morning. Credit: Daniel Potter / WPLN

Executives with Hankook made the announcement with Tennessee officials in Clarksville Monday morning. Credit: Daniel Potter / WPLN

South Korea’s largest tire manufacturer will build its first U.S. plant in Tennessee.

The state’s Department of Economic and Community development confirms Hankook Tire plans to invest $800 million and create 1,800 jobs.

The company would become the largest tenant in the Clarksville Corporate Business Park, with groundbreaking scheduled for late 2014 and tire production beginning by 2016.

Who Is Hankook?

The company employs roughly 20,000 people around the world with products in 180 countries, but Hankook’s U.S. operations remain relatively small. Hankook Tire America is headquartered in Wayne, N.J.

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