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Economic Development & Growth through Education

15

t is rare for a plant expansion and a new plant start-

up to occur in the same locality at the same time.

However, Bridgestone made it happen in Graniteville,

South Carolina with the help of readySC

.

Bridgestone Americas, Inc. an-

nounced in late 2011 that it

would spend $1.2 billion to ex-

pand its Passenger Tire Plant (PSR)

and build a new off-road radial

tire (ORR) manufacturing facility

in South Carolina. This investment

represented the largest single

initial capital investment in the

state’s history to date.

The new 1.5 million-square-foot

manufacturing facility in Gran-

iteville is the first Bridgestone

plant outside of Japan to produce

large and ultra-large ORR tires.

The expansion of the PSR facility,

which accounts for $346 million

of the investment, was finished in

the summer of 2013. When fully

completed, these two projects

will increase Bridgestone Ameri-

cas’ workforce in Aiken County by

more than 850 jobs.

readySC partnered with the local

SC Works office and the Lower

Savannah Council of Government

to support Bridgestone’s recruit-

ment goals. Additionally, readySC

worked collaboratively with the

company and Aiken Technical Col-

lege to train Bridgestone’s newly

hired employees making sure they

quickly attained the necessary

plant-specific entry-level skill sets.

One of many tools utilized by

readySC to support Bridgestone’s

training effort is the train-the-

trainer program. After initially

conducting training for selected

members of Bridgestone’s ORR

Plant, the plant embraced the

program and established it as a

foundational part of their training

structure. They quickly recognized

that having qualified and certified

trainers in all areas of production

and staffing created both tangible

and intangible efficiencies.

According to Rayette Godson,

training specialist with Bridge-

stone, “We have well over 70

people trained in the program

to date and plan to do about

50 more the rest of this year, so

we’ll have a lot of people that we

can call on at any point in time

to conduct good, sustainable

training that’s going to be consis-

tent throughout the plant.” She

strongly urges other companies to

use the readySC train-the-trainer

program. “If you have the oppor-

tunity to take advantage of the

program, absolutely do that... It’s

really a process of developing the

future of your company.”

As of mid-2015, the PSR Plant and

ORR Plant operations are lauded

as huge successes for Bridgestone

Americas, for Aiken County, and

for the state as a whole. The cus-

tomized solutions and flexibility

provided by readySC and all the

workforce partners in simultane-

ous and seamless support for the

two plants demonstrate perfectly

how South Carolina works to

enable companies and our ready

workforce to grow together.

I

The remarkable investment

earned South Carolina the

2011 GOLD

SHOVEL AWARD

by

Area Development

Magazine

In 2011, Bridgestone announced

the largest single monetary

investment in South Carolina’s history:

850 JOBS,

$1.2 BILLION INVESTMENT

This included expansion of its existing

light-truck and passenger tire plant

and the establishment of a

BRAND NEW OFF-ROAD

RADIAL TIRE PLANT

For more on the success of the readySC train-the-trainer program, see:

www.readysc.org/testimonials/train-the-trainer-program.html