Firestone Industrial Products Co. LLC is investing $50 million to expand the company’s automotive air springs manufacturing plant by 68,000 square feet and create 250 full-time jobs in Williamsburg.
The expansion to the company’s existing 375,000-square-foot plant is being spurred by growing customer demand and new business, including an increased focus on electric vehicle parts. Work on the expansion is expected to be complete in December, 2022.
“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,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.
The Williamsburg plant opened in 1989 and 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.”
Founded in 1936 and headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, 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, and rail and industrial applications. Firestone operates two North American plants, as well as several other international offices and manufacturing facilities.
“Firestone has long been an invaluable partner of Williamsburg/Whitley County as one of our largest industrial employers,” said Whitley County Judge/Executive Pat White Jr. “I am really excited to see this project move forward and for them to build on the proven success they have had in our community.”
To encourage the investment in the state, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority 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 250 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs over the next 15 years, with those jobs paying an average hourly wage of $29 including benefits.
Additionally, Firestone was approved for up to $350,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act, which allows companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
Kentucky Skills Network will also supply no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives to Firestone.