Firestone Opens New Plant in Costa Rica

May 1, 2009

The U.S. economy’s loss is Costa Rica’s gain.

President Oscar Arias was on hand Tuesday to inaugurate a new air springs plant for the U.S. company Firestone Industrial Products Co. in Turrialba, southeast of San José, a glimmer of hope for the Costa Rican economy as U.S. businesses may look to cut costs by moving operations overseas.

The 123,785-square-foot plant will add over 100 jobs to the area, and has already received $8 million in investment from the company. The final investment will total around $14 million, plant manager Alvaro Murillo estimated.

In a statement, Arias and Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz, who also attended the plant’s official opening, hailed the plant as an economic lifeboat in an area currently struggling amid the recession.

“It pleases me very much that Firestone comes to manufacture springs in Turrialba, demonstrating the trust they have in Costa Rica,” Arias said.

“This plant was in Indianapolis in the U.S. and they brought it here because certainly the costs of production are cheaper in Costa Rica, but overall it is important in a canton as this, depressed in employment numbers.”

Added Ruiz, “This new project becomes reality in difficult times where the generation of jobs is a priority for the country and of course for a region like Turrialba.”

Firestone is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas, Inc., which has operated a tire factory in La Ribera de Belén, northwest of San José, since 1967.

“We continue to see opportunities in emerging markets to develop and grow our air springs business internationally,” said Mike Cerio, president of Firestone Industrial Products, in a statement. “Our new facility in Costa Rica represents an excellent opportunity to better support these emerging international markets in a cost-effective manner.”

Also on Tuesday, Arias attended the opening of a plant for U.S. food company Lam Snacks, which is expected to generate 45 jobs, also in Turrialba.

–Patrick Fitzgerald

 

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