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      Michelin chairman to speak at USC Friday

      Michelin Chairman Dick Wilkerson announcing an expansion of its Lexington plant on May 9, 2010. / FILE

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- The chairman and president of Michelin North America Inc. is speaking during alumni festivities at the University of South Carolina.

      The school says Dick Wilkerson is a featured speaker for the Darla Moore School of Business during May Carolina Alumni Weekend on Friday.

      Wilkerson was named chairman and president of Michelin in August 2008.

      He oversees operations for Michelin North America including the United States, Canada and Mexico and is also the chairman of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

      Earlier this week, Michelin North America announced it is adding 270 high tech jobs and a $200 million investment at its Lexington plant.

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      The company says the expansion that will take place over the next two years is because of the rising demand for passenger tires.

      Trusted for its quality and value, the Michelin brand was quite resilient during the recent economic crisis, Wilkerson said. As the economy turned, demand for our tires increased dramatically. We must have additional capacity for high performance passenger car tires to meet our customers TM needs. We TMre thrilled that the expansion will be in our home state of South Carolina. The Lexington County Council and the state of South Carolina have been effective partners with us, working to make this expansion and the new jobs that support it a reality.

      In 2008, Michelin invested $90 million to expand production at its two plants in the Midlands. In the year leading up to that expansion, Michelin invested $200 million in projects.

      Haley says the Michelin has invested $2.6 billion in the Palmetto State since 1981 when it was established.

      The school says the free event is open to all university alumni. There is a reception after Wilkerson's speech.