Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli North America Corp.’s new facility in Rome represents another step in the community’s efforts to expand its local economy, according to Al Hodge, president and CEO of the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce.

          “Traditionally we had agriculture and textiles,” he told GlobalFax during an interview last week. “Now we have food processing, carpet and metals among other industries.”

          He traced the current economic development initiative to 1998 when a multi-step strategy was put in place to attract automobile, biochemical, information technology and healthcare companies.

          Most recently, the area has benefited from automobile related investments. Besides the Pirelli facility, three Japanese companies have opened or are in the process of opening facilities in the Rome and Floyd County area.

          They are: Fukuda Tech Inc. (F&P Georgia Manufacturing), a manufacturer of suspension systems; Neaton Rome Inc., a manufacturer of specialized plastic auto components; and Suzuki Corp., the first Japanese company to manufacture all terrain vehicles in the U.S.

          Their presence in the Rome area coincides with the arrival of a Honda minivan assembly plant in Lincoln, Ala.

          Mr. Hodge may be reached at (706) 291-7663.