U.S. jobs outlook

The U.S. economy is poised to accelerate after a dismal start to the year even though the job market won't return to full employment until 2017. That was the forecast offered Monday by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF noted that steady job gains and other data suggest a rebound. Employers have added 200,000-plus jobs for four straight months, and the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.3%.

Yet, the organization foresees the economy growing a modest 2% in 2014, below its previous estimate of 2.7%. That would be nearly identical to the 1.9% growth in 2013.

Associated Press

FORT MILL - Gov. Nikki Haley toured the Interstate 77 corridor Monday touting her reputation as a jobs governor while announcing 7,100 new jobs coming to that part of the state.

Haley kicked off her $800 million day in Richburg, where she announced a tire manufacturing plant to built in Chester County in a deal that's likely to provide a boost at the Port of Charleston.

Giti Tires, a Singapore-based company, said it will bring an estimated 1,700 jobs and a $560 million investment to the area.

In Fort Mill, on the second stop on her jobs tour, Haley said The Lash Group will employ 1,200 initially with a $57.3 million investment, which is expected to reach $90 million when a second facility is added and the workforce eventually doubles, the governor's office said.

The health care consulting business, which is owned by AmerisourceBergen, will move into its new headquarters by March 2016.

At her final stop, Haley announced the creation of 3,000 customer service jobs at LPL Financial, the nation's largest independent broker. When LPL moves its regional headquarters from Charlotte, across the border to Fort Mill, it will eventually employ 3,000 workers. Construction in York County is expected to start next year.

Combined, the three stops marked the largest number of jobs ever announced in a single day in South Carolina, Haley's office said.

Giti Tire stands to make the biggest impact in the Lowcountry, with the export of tires and the import of raw materials.

"A tire company is very complicated. We buy everything from chemicals to steel," said Enki Tan, executive chairman of Giti Tire Group. "So it's a conduit for a lot of services and products. Part of the economy around this area and around the Southeast is going to benefit from our buying the raw materials."

Haley said South Carolina is committed to making it easiest for any company to get their product to the market, when discussing the company's potential impact in the Lowcountry.

"It's the reason why we're trying to work so fast to get the Charleston port expanded," Haley said. "We've got do any and everything possible to make sure we're helping our companies get their product to market as fast as they can."

Haley celebrated Giti's North America expansion by calling South Carolina "the nation's tire capital." The company said it's the 10th-largest tire company in the world. It has a plant in California.

Giti's South Carolina factory will make passenger and light-truck tires for automakers and replacement markets in the new 1.8 million-square-foot plant on the Carolinas I-77 Mega Site.

The company said its decision to invest in Richburg was driven by several factors, including the area's workforce and training opportunities, proximity to major transportation infrastructure and the deep-water port in Charleston, market access to the growing Southeast region.

"In the end, a business-friendly atmosphere was also key," Tan said Monday in Richburg.

One of several incentives for Giti includes a $37.8 million closing fund grant to secure the land and prepare it, because it will require "extensive groundwork," said Bobby Hitt, the state's secretary of commerce.

Jim Newsome, CEO of the State Ports Authority, said Giti Tire would be a new customer for the maritime agency.

"We look forward to handling their import-export needs through the Port of Charleston and continuing to support our state's growing tire industry," Newsome said.

In 2011, the Palmetto State overtook Ohio, home of Goodyear, as the nation's No. 1 tire exporter, which has driven up cargo volume on the Charleston waterfront. That same year it passed North Carolina to become the No. 2 manufacturing state for domestic and overseas tire markets.

The industry continues to grow in South Carolina. Michelin North America recently announced construction of its eighth factory in the state. The 800,000-square-foot facility in Anderson County to make its large-scale "Earthmover" tires that are shipped around the world.

Also, Bridgestone recently built a new 1.5-million-square-foot tire plant in Aiken County, and about six months ago Continental Tires opened the first phase of a $500 million Sumter plant that's expected to employ 1,600 workers by 2021.

Increased quantities of raw materials in-part prompted the SPA to revive its once-dormant cargo-handling operations at Union Pier Terminal in downtown Charleston, where a warehouse on Monday was lined with large stacks of steel coils used in tire manufacturing.

"The automotive cluster, particularly the tire industry, provides significant import-export benefits for the port," Newsome said Monday. "We export off-road tires through our Charleston facilities and handle many of the raw materials and components imported for tire production."

The Associated Press and Tyrone Richardson of The Post and Courier contributed to this report.