There has been a great deal of attention in recent years over the ‘drive to move South,’ i.e., an increasing number of foreign automakers setting up manufacturing facilities and thriving across the Southern United States. For more than two decades, going back to the 1980s, foreign automobile manufacturers, from Toyota in Kentucky to Mercedes in Alabama to BMW in South Carolina to Nissan in Mississippi to Kia in Georgia to Volkswagen in Tennessee, have established assembly operations that continue to prosper, generating billions of dollars in economic impact and employing thousands of workers.
While the economic impact of the automobile sector in the South has been reviewed and scrutinized extensively in recent years, there has been less fanfare about a burgeoning sector in the region: the growing importance of tire manufacturing in the SLC states. Only in the last year and a half or so are the media and auto industry analysts realizing that some of the world’s largest tire manufacturers are locating, relocating or expanding their operations in the South. This Regional Resource examines this trend and its economic impact on the region, analyzing the South’s emergence as the Tire Hub of the United States.