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Local officials react to Giti Tire opening

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By Brian Garner

Call it a tread cutting, not a ribbon cutting.

In fact, at the grand opening of the 1.7 million square foot Giti Tire plant facility in Richburg, there was no ribbon cut and maybe no tread was actually even cut. Some tires were made, though, as part of their tour of the facility, S.C. Governor Henry McMaster and Walmart CEO Greg Foran each made two during the ceremony.

The occasion was both to announce the grand opening of the plant in Chester County and to celebrate the partnership with retail giant Walmart. Giti’s Chester County plant will produce tires for Walmart under the Dextero brand and is estimated they will make 100,000 tires for Walmart by the end of the year. In 2018, that capacity will be several million tires. These Dextero tires should be for sale in local Walmart stores by the end of the year, said Foran and Giti Chairman Dr. Enki Tan during the plant tour.

The importance of the occasion was not lost on some Chester County government and community leaders.

Walt Whitman, president of the Progressive Association of Chester County Communities (PACCC), a long-time booster organization for the county said the plant was a great improvement for the entire county, no matter where it was located.

“This is great for this company to come in and help us with all of the unemployment we’ve had and we’re looking forward to its success, and the success of all the other companies coming into the area. Giti Tire is going to be a great asset to us here,” Whitman said. He said he felt some of the other plants that have announced they were locating in Chester County (Allegheny Technologies and GE Aviation just this week announced a partnership to open a $28 million R&D facility next to ATI’s existing Richburg plant) were drawn here because they learned Giti Tire had, as the county likes to say, “chosen Chester.”

Chester County Supervisor Shane Stuart said, “We’ve been ready for this day since 2014 when they made the initial announcement. It’s even more exciting to look around and see a lot of people from our county as Giti employees, people who live in Chester County and work here,” Stuart said.

As Stuart would later say in his speech that day, “Giti Tire is our BMW and our Boeing.”

Richburg Mayor James Harris was also attending the ceremony and he said Giti Tire presented a good opportunity and the tire maker’s presence will cause a lot of growth, both in Chester County and in his town of Richburg.

“We’re going to be blessed because of them being here,” Harris said. “We are excited that so many of our people are finding jobs that haven’t had jobs,” he said.

Chester County Council Vice Chair Joe Branham reflected on all that the coming of Giti Tire means.

“Chester County and Giti Tire are just a great combination, and it came about through a lot of hard work. It’s great to be here and to see all the people here and see all the employees who are here. I think it’s a great day for Chester County. Developing this piece of property we’re standing on has been in the works for about 25 years and seeing it come to fruition today is a great thing. This is the biggest thing to ever hit Chester County,” Branham said.

There was one person’s presence that was missing from the Giti Tire celebration and that was the late former Chester County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey, who was in office when Giti Tire made their initial choice to locate in Chester County, but his widow, Lois Roddey, said he was there in spirit.

“It is a wonderful day. I just wish Carlisle was here, but he is here, in our hearts,” she said.

Dr. Tan and Roddey became fast friends during the course of the development of Giti’s Chester County plant. During the tour, Dr. Tan said of his absent friend, “I just wish he could have seen the facility. He is missed.”