Construction on the first phase of the Yokohama Tire Company plant in West Point is shown in this July 12 aerial photo. Officials say construction is on schedule for Phase 1 which will be in operation October 2015. Photo by: Courtesy photo/Mike Hainsey/GTRA
August 8, 2014 11:53:47 AM
Construction is on schedule for the new Yokohama Tire Company plant in West Point to begin operations in roughly 14 months.
State legislators cleared the way for the tire manufacturing facility last year when they passed a $130 million economic incentive package to bring the Tokyo-based company to the 1,100-acre Prairie Belt Powersite.
What is slated to open in October 2015, is the first of a four-phase project. The other three phases are scheduled to be complete by 2023. For each phase, 500 jobs are expected to be available. Yokohama is expected to invest $300 million in each phase.
Alan Easome, Yokohama senior director for new plant development, when contacted by The Dispatch this week, did not elaborate on the specific types of tires that will be made in West Point. The company, Easome said, is concentrating on completing the first phase of construction. Preliminary testing for the new plant is scheduled for next April.
About 60 people have been hired in administration, engineering and technical positions. Easome said additional supervision and maintenance positions are currently open, and production positions will open up this fall.
Yokohama officials met with staff from the Golden Triangle Development LINK and East Mississippi Community College's Workforce and Community Services on Tuesday. LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said all parties are confident that they've got a head start in the process of finding the right people for the opening job positions.
"(Yokohama representatives) said we're getting there and we're on schedule, but anything you could do to help us would be a good thing," Higgins said. "What we did was brainstorm about some ideas to get them front and center and make sure everybody knew there were opportunities. We're talking about trying to work something at Mississippi State on football weekends so people will know. Other than that, we think we're in pretty good shape."
First phase specifics
Construction of Yokohama Boulevard, the 4.14-mile road to the plant, is 58 percent complete, according to site manager Keith Clark of Eutaw Construction.
That company was awarded the contract for the job in December after submitting a $19,465,284 bid. Eutaw Construction is required to have the project done by Dec. 31.
Clark said the project also consists of four bridges as part of the road between Eshman Avenue and Barton Ferry Road with an exit off Highway 45 Alternate. Two of the bridges are nearly complete, as is 95 percent of 571,000 cubic yards of excavation, he said. APAC Construction is putting down the final surface of the road.
He added that 35 people have been involved with the road construction.
"This is considered to be a major roadway project to be completed in basically a nine-month time frame," Clark said. "We were able to start the project in February and be completed before the end of the year. We're a little ahead of schedule and look to even get a little farther ahead as long as the weather holds up for the next couple of months."
Easome said once the first phase is up and running, Yokohama should have a better timeframe as to when construction on the second phase might begin.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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