Sumter residents, business leaders await Continental Tire plant

SUMTER, SC (WIS) - Drivers zooming by on Highway 521 south of Sumter might not notice the bright yellow signs at roadside, but the small signs signal something big on the way to the rural area.

The signs call attention to a proposed zoning change -- one that passed county council Tuesday night. It paves the way for work that will transform empty fields and woods into one of the state's biggest industrial operations: Continental Tire.

The property covers more than 320 acres just east of the highway and close to St. Matthews Church Road. The head of the county development board says the site is nearly a mile deep -- plenty of space for the massive million square foot production facility that will turn out tires for cars and light trucks.

The German-based company settled on Sumter County for its latest expansion earlier this month.

The company's announcement stunned competing states and created a level of excitement in the Sumter business community described by one economic development official as "off the charts."

The plant will be built in two phases with a final completion date in ten years, but it will be turning out tires for cars and trucks within two years and putting the first of 1,600 people to work.

Marilyn Hudson wants to be one of them. She lives right across the highway.

"Anytime you have jobs coming and the way the economy is, it wouldn't be a pain for me. It would be a blessing," said Hudson.

Workers will start clearing the property where the plant will be situated in mid-December.

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