The Herald-News: Lamar Alexander lauds Rhea's new Nokian Tyres plant

Posted on July 14, 2017

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander visited Rhea County on Thursday to praise local officials for landing the Nokian Tyres manufacturing plant, which will be constructed in north Dayton.

Alexander stopped in Rhea County and met with Dayton Mayor Gary Louallen, Rhea Economic and Tourism Council Executive Director Dennis Tumlin, Rhea County Executive George Thacker and State Rep. Ron Travis.

Alexander praised the Rhea County leaders for taking advantage of their economic opportunities, such as expanding the auto industry in Tennessee and bass fishing on Watts Bar and Chickamauga Lakes.

“When I was governor, I led an effort to get Tennesseans to celebrate the good things our state had to offer, and that’s exactly what Rhea County is doing by capitalizing on the area’s bass fishing, which is some of the best in the country,” Alexander said. “I also commend Rhea County officials for their hard work in recruiting Nokian Tyres to the county, which will help create more than 400 good-paying jobs for Tennessee families.”

Nokian Tyres will create at least 400 new jobs and invest $360 million in the facility, which represents the largest foreign direct investment in Rhea County’s history.

Headquartered in Finland, with a North American sales office in Vermont, Nokian Tyres is the only tire manufacturer in the world that focuses on customer needs in demanding conditions. The company supplies innovative tires for cars, trucks and special heavy machinery mainly in areas with special challenges for tire performance including snow, forests and harsh driving conditions in different seasons.

 “The factory is above all a strategic decision to continue and enable Nokian Tyres’ growth path,” Nokian Tyres’ Chairman of the Board of Directors Petteri Walldén said. “The total sales of tires is estimated to grow in coming years. With this investment, we will get the needed capacity for growth. And while the Dayton factory clearly enables us to serve our North American customers better and more efficiently, it also improves our production capabilities and customer service throughout our global operations.”

Nokian Tyres’ new Tennessee facility will focus on manufacturing passenger, SUV and light-truck tires. The company will begin construction on the new 830,000-square-foot facility in early 2018, and the facility is expected to be complete in 2020.

“Selecting a North American site shows our commitment to our customers in one of our most important growth areas,” Nokian Tyres’ Interim President and CEO Andrei Pantioukhov said. “The Dayton/Rhea County site was selected based on several factors, including skilled workforce availability, logistical advantages and a business-friendly administration. After thorough investigation, it was clear that Tennessee was the best choice for the factory, and we are proud to become part of the community.”

Officials said that coupled with local leaders effrots to bring the company to Dayton, the state’s passage of the IMPROVE Act, which went into effect on July 1, helped bring Nokian Tyres to the area.

As part of the IMPROVE Act, manufacturing companies will have the option to use a single weighted sales factor, which will make Tennessee more competitive when recruiting new manufacturing companies and jobs.

“Nokian Tyres’ decision to locate its new operations here is a tremendous win for Rhea County and our state, and we want to thank Nokian Tyers for its decision to invest in Southeast Tennessee,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. “We’ve worked hard to create the best possible environment for job creation, and the recent passage of the IMPROVE Act played a critical role in attracting this great company to Tennessee. Today’s announcement speaks volumes about Tennessee’s competitiveness in the global marketplace.”