Firestone Industrial Products Co., will invest $50 million to expand the company’s automotive air springs manufacturing plant in Williamsburg, Kentucky. The company plans to create 250 full-time jobs.
The 68,000-square-foot expansion of the 375,000-square-foot facility is spurred by growing customer demand and new business, including an increased focus on electric vehicle parts. Work on the expansion project is expected to be completed by December 2022. Firestone opened its Whitley County operation in 1989 which currently employs more than 500 people, producing approximately 4 million parts annually.
“With the increase in vehicle electrification, Firestone air suspension systems are in high demand among the most innovative and forward-thinking original equipment manufacturers globally,” said Emily Poladian, president of Firestone Industrial Products. “Firestone air suspensions are optimally designed with electric vehicles in mind. Compared to traditional coil spring suspensions, our air suspensions are designed to help improve the handling and comfort of heavier electric vehicles and can even help improve EV range by lowering the vehicle to help improve aerodynamics. Advanced air suspensions are increasingly a ‘must-have’ technology on premium electric vehicles, and Firestone is committed to maintaining its leadership in this exciting and important market.”
“As we continue to work toward a brighter future for all Kentuckians, I want to thank Firestone Industrial Products for its commitment to Whitley County, the Eastern Kentucky region and the commonwealth as a whole,” Governor Andy Beshear said. “This company has been an important corporate partner in our state for decades, and this investment by Firestone in support of the emerging electric vehicle market ensures that will continue to be the case for years to come. Thank you to the company’s leadership for furthering their commitment to Kentucky.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) on Thursday preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $6.5 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $50.89 million and annual targets of creation and maintenance of 250 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years and paying an average hourly wage of $29 including benefits across those jobs.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Firestone for up to $350,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing. By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments. In addition, the company can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network.
“The Southern Kentucky Economic Development Agency is both pleased and grateful that Firestone Industrial Products has chosen to expand their Williamsburg/Whitley County manufacturing facility,” said Bruce Carpenter, executive director of the Southern Kentucky Economic Development Agency. “They have remained a major corporate citizen in Williamsburg for many years and we look forward to their continued growth and success as they create additional new jobs for our region.”
Founded in 1936 and headquartered in Nashville, Firestone Industrial Products is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Inc. The company manufactures air springs and related products for commercial trucks and trailers, passenger vehicles including sport-utility vehicles and minivans, light trucks, motor homes, buses, agricultural equipment, rail and industrial applications. Firestone operates two North American plants, a European office and technical center in the Netherlands, as well as international manufacturing facilities in Brazil, Poland, China and Costa Rica.