RICHBURG, S.C. — Gov. Henry McMaster visited South Carolina's newest tire factory Wednesday as the state moved further ahead as the biggest maker of tires in the United States.
Giti Tire showed off its gleaming new factory in Richburg to McMaster, Walmart executives and other dignitaries. The governor even helped make and put his signature on one of the Singapore company's tires.
The plant, which is about 50 miles north of Columbia, is expected to have about 1,700 employees and make several million tires a year when it becomes fully operational. Currently, Giti has several hundred employees at the 1.7 million-square-foot plant.
"It is an excellent facility, and with its size, they have an eye on the future," said Cindi Marsiglio, vice president of U.S. manufacturing for Walmart.
The retailer is especially interested in the Giti plant because of a promise it made in 2013 to buy $250 billion in products that support American jobs over the next decade. The South Carolina factory is Giti's first in the U.S. and will send a number of its tires to Walmart.
The Giti plant is a culmination of an effort to make South Carolina the king of tires in the United States. The state is also home to plants for tire makers Michelin, Bridgestone, Continental and Trelleborg.
Even before a tire rolled off Giti's lines, South Carolina was making more than 100,000 tires a day, according to the state Department of Commerce.