Cooper Tire nears start of $5.75M expansion

TUPELO – By March, the Cooper Tire and Rubber plant will have a 32,000-square-foot addition with more equipment and potentially more jobs.
On Tuesday, contractors interested in the $5.75 million project met in City Hall to talk about the work in a “pre-bid” conference.
They later went to the plant site to get additional details about the work, and another visit is planned on Friday, said BJ Teal, Tupelo’s director of development services.
“This is a very extensive project,” she said.
The work comes seven months after Cooper Tire spared the Tupelo plant from being closed. The Findlay, Ohio-based tire company announced last fall it needed to close one of its U.S. plants to remain competitive.
In December, the company announced it was closing the 1,100-worker plant in Albany, Ga. Cooper said work would be dispersed to its other plants, including Tupelo.

Bids too high will be rejected
The mixing building expansion in Tupelo will add 32,000 square feet to a sprawling complex that already has expanded several times and now covers more than 900,000 square feet.
“There are a lot of communities in the country who would love to be in a position to retain and expand a company as good as Cooper Tire,” said David Rumbarger, president and CEO of the Community Development Foundation.
Bids will be rejected if they’re more than 10 percent over the estimated $5.75 million cost, Teal said.
In addition, two other bids will be accepted. One is for a project valued at about $450,000 that would add an electrical room, while the other is for $140,000 for site alterations.
The bids will be opened on Aug. 11, and work must be completed on the expansion within 210 days.
When fully operational, the additional mixing line could add as many as 16 new jobs.
“We were very excited about the opportunity to save Cooper Tire jobs and to also have the opportunity to add to them,” Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said. “It’s our top priority to have good jobs for men and women in Tupelo.”

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1605 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal