Leaders break ground on Firestone plant expansion in Whitley County

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Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 11:32 AM EDT
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WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Federal, state and local leaders gathered in Whitley County Monday to break ground on an expansion project expected to bring 250 full-time jobs to the area.

“And we’re seeing those projects all over Kentucky, like in Richmond as well,” Governor Andy Beshear said. “We’re on a roll and as long as we can continue to work together and push forward, I don’t think that roll is going to end anytime soon.”

Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers, State Senate President Robert Stivers, and officials with Firestone Industrial Products were on hand at the company’s Whitley County facility for the ceremony.

The 68,000 square-foot, $50 million expansion comes following growing customer demand and new business, including an increased focus on electric vehicle parts.

“As we continue to build a better Kentucky for all of our families, I want to thank Firestone Industrial Products for its commitment to Whitley County, the Eastern Kentucky region and the commonwealth as a whole,” Beshear said in a news release. “This company has been a dedicated corporate partner in the commonwealth for many years, and this investment shows Firestone’s commitment to Kentucky as it creates 250 new jobs to meet increased demand for cutting-edge technology in electric vehicles. Kentucky’s workforce remains a national leader in manufacturing and made our state the perfect place for this expansion.”

Congressman Rogers said it was an historic moment for the state.

“This is the first place I think in my district that’s making a product solely devoted to electric cars,” Rogers said.

Firestone has operated in Whitley County since 1989 and currently employs more than 500 people at the 375,000-square-foot facility, where the company produces approximately 4 million parts annually.

“Today, we celebrate the vitality and growth of this plant and this community, with new investment, new jobs and a physical expansion driven by growing demand for our products and, just as fundamentally, by this team’s commitment to delivering innovation and superior quality for our customers here and around the world,” said Emily Poladian, president, Firestone Industrial Products in a news release. “Our company and our Kentucky team have a vital role to play in the transformation of mobility brought forth by advanced electric vehicle systems and by key supporting technologies like our Firestone air springs and air suspensions.”

Poladian adds it is a must need for the Commonwealth.

“It’s given us the opportunity to expand here in Kentucky for the U.S. market and we’ve also expanded in our plant in Europe,” Poladian said.

Plant Manager Wendy Goff said her team is ready to go once the expansion is finished.

“Everyone in this plant in Williamsburg is so excited and we just feel a new energy coming here,” Goff said.

Goff adds she has already seen a strong response from the community.

“Everyone loves working at Firestone. It’s a really good place to work, has great pay and benefits,” Goff said. “So, everyone has been referring their friends.”

Work on the expansion project is expected to be completed by December 2022.

Goff said that they already have a plan in place for the hiring process.

“I got a great human resource manager, she’s already working that,” Goff said. “We’ve already got job postings open, out on our Bridgestone website. People can go and apply there, and we’re read to get rolling, we’ve already started hiring.”

Poladian said that construction should begin in the coming weeks.

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