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Tire-maker Hankook to build $800M plant in Tenn.

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ERIK SCHELZIG | October 14, 2013 12:25 PM EST | AP

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — South Korean tire-maker Hankook announced Monday that it will build its first North American plant in Tennessee, creating 1,800 jobs.

Hankook, the world's seventh-largest tire maker, said it will build the $800 million facility in Clarksville. Construction on the 1.5 million-square-foot facility is scheduled to begin by the end of next year, and it will begin making high-end performance tires in 2016.

Seung Hwa Suh, Hankook's vice chairman and CEO, called the construction of the U.S. plant "the next natural phase for our continued growth." He said the decision to locate in Tennessee was the result of a year of discussions with state officials, and he cited the central location and existing auto industry as major factors.

Nissan, General Motors and Volkswagen have assembly plants in Tennessee, and more than 900 further automotive sector companies are active in the state.

Clarksville is also home to a steel cord plant for Japanese tire maker Bridgestone, which has its Americas headquarters in Nashville.

Not all the news has been good for the tire industry in Tennessee in recent years. Goodyear in 2011 shut its plant about 100 miles to the west in Union City, causing 1,800 workers to lose their jobs.