Tennessee

TVA Megasite in Clarksville, TN Commerce Park May Get $500M Data Center Project

Later today, the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution approving a development agreement between an as yet unnamed company and the City of Clarksville, Montgomery County, and the Montgomery County IDB to establish a facility in the Commerce Park (1000 Solar Way).

Commerce Park, Clarksville, TN data center project

Photo – mcgtn.org

The site in question is the 1,215-acre TVA certified megasite that was formerly the $1.2 billion Hemlock Semiconductor plant. According to a report published by The Tennessean, the new company that is taking up this site is Google. The search giant will establish its 15th data center on this site with a $500 million investment and the creation of 70 jobs.

The Clarksville data center project will be Google’s second deal with the Tennessee Valley Authority, following a similar announcement earlier this year under which Google said it would invest $600 million to establish a data center on TVA’s Widows Creek soon-to-be retired coal plant site in North Alabama.

The Commerce Park megasite in Clarksville, TN came into being after the IDB, a partner organization of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Economic Development Council, was able to secure a land option and purchase agreement with the Laurence (Buck) Teeter family for the purchase of their approximately 1,215-acre family farm.

The availability of this land, and the efforts and investment spent to make it Middle Tennessee’s only TVA certified megasite, resulted in the Commerce Park being selected by Dow Corning and HSC in Dec 2008 for a $1.2 billion project with 500 jobs after a two and a half year worldwide site selection process.

The Hemlock Semiconductor project received more than $400 million in local, state and federal assistance, including more than $343 million in Montgomery County and Tennessee economic development incentives and tax breaks, and a commitment of more than $60 million from the TVA.

Citing market conditions, Hemlock idled the plant in 2013 and shut it down in 2014.The company had committed to work with local authorities to find a buyer for the site, which was until now one of the few remaining TVA certified megasites.

Google taking up this site for a $500 million data center once again justifies the vision, dedication and investment of the Montgomery County IDB and EDC in the TVA megasite certification process, which offers Tennessee Valley sites suitable for large-scale manufacturing that are certified as ready for development by McCallum Sweeney Consulting.

Memphis, Tennessee Secure LEDIC National Headquarters Relocation

LEDIC Realty Company, a fully integrated manager, owner, and developer of multifamily properties, has announced the selection of Memphis, TN as the location of its new national headquarters.

LEDIC

LEDIC (photo – ledic.com)

Supported by the Tennessee Dept. of Economic and Community Development, Greater Memphis Chamber and Memphis economic development agency EDGE, the company will invest $10.2 million to retrofit a four-story, 60,000-square-foot building and relocate all of its national headquarters personnel and equipment.

The new headquarters location will not only have a training facility for educating LEDIC employees, but will also serve as a location to host large real estate association groups and expand real estate professional education.

The investment and headquarters relocation within Memphis will enable the company to grow and create 300 new jobs in Tennessee. Approximately 100 of the new jobs will be based at the national headquarters, while the remaining 200 jobs will be created at Tennessee locations outside Memphis.

LEDIC, which has acquired over 9,000 apartment units in 2015, now manages 40,000 apartment units and already employs more than 1,100 team members nationwide.

Governor Bill Haslam said in a release that “We want to thank LEDIC for choosing Memphis for its new national headquarters and for creating 300 new jobs in Tennessee.”

TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd noted that LEDIC’s decision to locate a new national headquarters in Memphis marks the second headquarters commitment in less than two weeks in Shelby County. LEDIC’s announcement follows hardware and home improvement products distributor Orgill, Inc., who late last month announced plans to build a new world headquarters in Collierville.

Apart from the national headquarters in Memphis, LEDIC also has additional offices located in Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia, and considered other locations for the new headquarters before deciding to stay put and grow in Memphis.

The agenda for the Memphis Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) board meeting next week includes the LEDIC headquarters project. EDGE President and CEO Reid Dulberger said in the release that the EDGE Board looks forward to meeting with LEDIC next week to continue the discussion.

“We applaud LEDIC’s decision to locate its national headquarters in Memphis, and the state’s assistance in bringing this one step to closer,” added Dulberger.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. likewise noted that it is great to have a company like LEDIC making plans for a significant, $10 million investment in the city.

LEDIC was founded in 1979 by Scott P. Ledbetter, and is still a family-owned private company led by Scott P. “Pierce” Ledbetter Jr. The company is ranked by the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) as one of the top 50 largest management companies in America.

Nashville Area Secures Sinomax Project With Largest Jobs Creation By Chinese Firm in Tennessee

Tennessee has secured yet another manufacturing project by a Chinese-owned company, following closely on the heels of a recent announcement by Chinese ceramic tile manufacturer Wonderful Group. This time, the company is Sinomax, a foam products manufacturer and distributor that will locate its first U.S. manufacturing operations in the Nashville suburb of La Vergne, TN.

Sinomax

Sinomax (photo – JC Awe/flickr)

Supported by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, TVA and other private and public sector partners, the company will invest $28 million and create 350 jobs in Davidson County.

Governor Bill Haslam said in a release that “We want to welcome Sinomax to Tennessee and thank them for creating 350 jobs in La Vergne and Davidson County.”

These jobs represent the largest jobs commitment made in Tennessee’s history for a single project announcement by a Chinese-owned company. That’s a nice follow-up to the Wonderful Group’s $150 million project announcement in Lebanon, TN, which was billed as the largest capital investment made by a Chinese-based project in the state’s history.

TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd said in the release that “This is the second major investment by a Chinese company in as many weeks and we are excited to have Sinomax invest in our state.”

Commissioner Boyd added that it is always great news when a company like Sinomax, with such a prominent international market position, decides to open new operations in Tennessee.

Sinomax USA, a leading designer, manufacturer and producer of CertiPUR-US certified memory foam, is headquartered in Houston, TX. They have manufacturing facilities in China, as well as distribution centers in America, including a Fifth Ave showroom in New York.

The company is part of the Sinomax Group, which is headquartered in Hong Kong, and is a leading marketer, manufacturer and distributor of visco-elastic products. Their mattresses, pillows and mattress toppers, produced at four manufacturing plants, are sold in over 6,000 stores across the world.

The establishment of their new 505,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the former Whirlpool site in La Vergne will enable local production of the various foam products that Sinomax specializes in.

Sinomax USA President and CEO Frank Chen said in the release that they anticipate significant growth as demand for localized manufacturing continues. “We chose the Nashville area for its pro-business environment, its talented workforce and its welcoming spirit,” added Chen.

Mayor Megan Barry focused on the Nashville economic development benefits the project will bring. “Sinomax USA is helping to grow our economy and create more good manufacturing jobs right here in Nashville while also enhancing our city’s reputation as a place known for making high-quality products,” said Mayor Barry.

State, Local Support Bring Chinese Tile Maker to Lebanon, Tennessee

Chinese porcelain tile manufacturer Wonderful Group has announced the selection of Lebanon, TN as the location for its first U.S. manufacturing plant.

Tennessee

Tennessee (photo – scmikeburton/flickr)

Supported by the State of Tennessee, TVA, Wilson County and Lebanon economic development groups, the company will invest $150 million to establish a 500,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in the Cherry Farm Industrial Site.

The company also expects to create 220 jobs at the facility for Lebanon and Wilson County.

Governor Bill Haslam said in a release that “We want to welcome Wonderful Group to Tennessee and thank the company for choosing our state as the location for its first U.S. operations.”

Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead said they believe that this is further confirmation of Lebanon’s progressive and growing city which offers opportunities for their success and future growth. Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said he wants to thank Wonderful Group along with their local, state and regional partners that made this happen.

Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd noted that this is the largest capital investment made by a Chinese-based project in the state’s history. “We are honored that Tennessee will be home to Wonderful Group’s first manufacturing facility in the country, and I look forward to building a strong relationship with the company in the years to come,” added Commissioner Boyd.

Wonderful Group CEO Jianping Huang said they are pleased and proud to invest in the city of Lebanon and Middle Tennessee. “We appreciate the support received from the state, county and city and look forward to bringing more jobs in the ceramic tile industry to Tennessee,” added Huang.

State incentives for the project haven’t been disclosed, but the company is getting a tax abatement from Wilson County, along with fee waivers from the City of Lebanon.

C. Hixson, executive director of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board of Wilson County, which is a governmental economic development agency, said in the release that “This announcement would not have been possible without the work of our economic partners which include the Wilson County Commission, the city of Lebanon, the state of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority.”

TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley likewise added that they are pleased to partner with the state of Tennessee, the Joint Economic and Community Development Board of Wilson County, city of Lebanon and Wilson County officials to facilitate Wonderful Group’s location decision.

Chattanooga, Tennessee Get Strong Expansion Commitment From Volkswagen

Timed to coincide with a Tennessee Senate hearing called to look into economic development incentives awarded to Volkswagen, the company reaffirmed its commitment to the ongoing expansion of its Chattanooga facility.

Volkswagen Chattanooga

Volkswagen Chattanooga (press photo – vw.com)

Volkswagen Group issued a release reaffirming its expansion plans with an investment of approximately $900 million for the production of a newly developed, seven-passenger SUV. In the state of Tennessee alone, Volkswagen Group anticipates a $600 million investment and creation of 2,000 additional jobs.

Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Michael Horn said in the release that “The United States continues to be one of the most important markets for Volkswagen, and our commitment to Chattanooga and the state of Tennessee is clear proof of that.”

Volkswagen Chattanooga President and CEO Christian Koch added that they reaffirm their support of the Chattanooga plant, their employees and the broader community. “We know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but this is a crucial moment in our efforts to deepen our commitment to America,” added Koch.

Koch was one of those who present for the TN Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee hearing, along with Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd. The hearing was called to look into the safety and sustainability of the large state investments in Volkswagen’s Chattanooga operations.

The company was approved to receive around $577 million in Tennessee economic development incentives to secure the original project and help build the plant.

Volkswagen has already invested more than $1 billion in its factory in Chattanooga, which now has more than 2,400 existing employees. The company is now getting additional incentives for the ongoing expansion to enable production of the new SUV at the plant. Volkswagen stands to get $165 million in state incentives this year alone.

Lawmakers and officials attending the hearing were mostly supportive of the company, which is still struggling to get a handle on the worldwide impact of the emissions cheating scandal. Sales of diesel Passat sedans, which make up around one fourth of the vehicles produced by Volkswagen in Chattanooga, have been halted because of the scandal.

Following the hearing, TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd went down personally to a dealership and placed an order for the first new SUV that will roll off the Volkswagen Chattanooga line in early 2017.

“We must all keep in mind that we have over 2,000 proud, hardworking Tennesseans working for VW and while none of them did anything wrong, they are feeling the pain,” said Commissioner Boyd in a Facebook update posted by TNECD. “These are challenging times for them. These are our neighbors, our friends, our fellow Tennesseans. They need our moral support. Tennesseans always stand together in times of need and we need to let them know we stand with them.”

Alcoa, Tennessee Lands $533M Advanced Munitions International Global HQ and Manufacturing Project

Advanced Munitions International has announced the selection of Alcoa, TN as the location for their new global headquarters and state-of-the-art munitions manufacturing facility.

Blount County economic development

Photo – blountindustry.com

The company will invest $553 million into the project for building a new campus on a 235-acre site in Alcoa’s Partnership Park for its manufacturing, distribution and R&D operations.

AMI expects to create 605 new jobs for Alcoa and Blount County. AMI is known for its HPR Ammunition brand. The company supplies ammunition to the military, law enforcement and civilian markets.

Governor Bill Haslam, who made the announcement at an event in Maryville, said in the release that “I want to thank AMI for their substantial investment in Tennessee and for the more than 600 jobs they will create in Blount County.”

Jim Antich, AMI founder and executive chairman, said in the release that when they looked nationally for a site to build this facility, Tennessee stood out as a place with leaders that understand and support strong business growth.

AMI cited the proximity and resources of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a deciding factor. “Having a resource like ORNL nearby also attracted us to Tennessee and Blount County,” added Antich.

Jeff Smith, deputy director for operations at ORNL, noted that AMI officials visited the lab during the recruitment process, and said they are excited that the company has chosen to call East Tennessee home.

Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd added that “Tennessee has a long history of manufacturing excellence that fits perfectly with AMI’s needs. I want to thank AMI for choosing Tennessee and for the jobs they will create.”

Local leaders also praised AMI’s decision to locate in Alcoa, and echoed expectations of a long-term working relationship. Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell said in the release that this is a great opportunity for Blount County and AMI to begin a mutual partnership, and added that he looks forward to a great relationship for many years with AMI.

Alcoa City Mayor Don Mull likewise cited the collaborative efforts of the state of Tennessee, the city of Alcoa, and Blount County economic development groups including the Blount Partnership and others, which he said has once again produced a win – win environment for their regional community.

“This announcement speaks volumes in support of our efforts at local cooperative processes,” added Mayor Mull.

Blount County Industrial Development Board Chair Fred Lawson focused on the accumulation of economic development announcements they have made this year. “We welcome AMI to Blount County and celebrate the fact that this announcement brings our jobs and capital investment total this year to 1720 and $982 million, respectively,” said Lawson.

The Advanced Munitions International project follows on the heels of other major projects announced this year in the county including by DENSO, ProNova and Cirrus Aircraft.

AMI expects to break ground on the project this spring, and will open the facility in the last quarter of 2018.

Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development

The 62nd Annual Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development is scheduled to be held Oct 13-14 at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville.

Team Tennessee

Team Tennessee (photo – tnecd.com)

The conference theme this year is “Team Tennessee” and will focus on showcasing how the state’s workforce, education and transportation systems are aligning to support the overall Tennessee economic development mission.

More than 800 economic development leaders, state and local elected officials, and business professionals are expected to attend the two-day conference.

The conference agenda includes four session blocks offering a total of 12 educational sessions on topics ranging from rural development, workforce and education to entrepreneurism, branding and more.

The first session block includes three concurrent sessions on Economic Development 101, driving private sector interest in education, and the impact of tourism. The second session block features concurrent sessions on main street vitality, rural health, and “Taking the Big LEAP: Case Studies and Success Stories.”

The third session block features concurrent sessions on approaches for supporting rural entrepreneurs, a discussion of Project Thunder (Cirrus Aircraft), and a session on “Select Tennessee & PEP 2.0.” The fourth session block will feature a session on the new tax credit landscape, another one about branding your site, and a third session to introduce the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet.

The three plenary sessions on the agenda which will explore issues involving economic development alignment, the state of transportation in Tennessee and the power of education will be led by TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd, TDOT Commissioner John Schroer and TN Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen, respectively.

TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd said in a release that “This year’s conference will give attendees an opportunity to hear from several of my fellow cabinet members in addition to a number of other exceptional speakers, and I’m hopeful that our stakeholders will leave with new, creative ideas to share with their communities.”

Business author Joe Calloway will be the keynote speaker for the Commissioner’s Luncheon. Calloway is the author of “Be the Best at What Matters Most” and five other ground-breaking business books, and is also a consultant and speaker with a client list that includes companies such as Coca Cola, IBM, Cadillac and American Express.

What: TN Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development (govcon.tnecd.com)

When: Oct 13-14, 2015

Where: Renaissance Hotel, Nashville, TN

TN Lawmakers Consider Hearing on Impact of Volkswagen Emissions Scandal on State Investments

The Volkswagen emissions scandal has caused severe reactions all over the map, but most of it is in the form of lawsuits, investigations and legal actions initiated by governments and groups representing impacted vehicle owners.

VW Golf TDI clean diesel car

VW Golf TDI clean diesel car (photo – Mariordo/wikipedia)

It’s a different issue in Tennessee, where the company’s operations and expansion plans are tied to hundreds of millions in State of Tennessee and Chattanooga economic development incentives. There’s also the huge economic impact of the company’s operations on the state.

These concerns have led to calls for a legislative hearing to look into the potential impact of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, and how it impacts the state’s investment.

Tennessee Senate Speaker Pro Tem Bo Watson has written a letter to Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Randy McNally, asking the Chairman to schedule a hearing. In the letter, Watson says that Tennesseans have made a significant investment in Volkswagen, and adds that any action that threatens the sustainability of this investment should be reviewed by the finance committee.

The hearing is likely to be scheduled as soon as the Finance, Ways and Means Committee is able to coordinate it with the Committee’s members and other parties that may have something to contribute to the hearing.

According to an economic impact study by the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s Center for Business & Economic Research (CBER), Volkswagen Chattanooga’s original plant operations have resulted in the creation of 12,400 full time equivalent jobs in Tennessee. The company was awarded $577 million in economic development incentives for the project after it announced the selection of Chattanooga for the project.

Last year, Volkswagen announced a $704.4 million expansion of its Chattanooga operations to add a new manufacturing line for an SUV, which it said would create another 1,800 manufacturing jobs and 200 new engineering jobs. This expansion was secured by the state with another package of incentives totaling $300 million.

According to a follow-up CBER study, this expansion will result in the creation of 9,799 new full-time equivalent permanent jobs in Tennessee. The construction and development phase of the project will additionally create 5,391 full time equivalent jobs for a year.

This is where the emissions cheating scandal comes into the picture. Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board revealed that while testing diesel cars of the Volkswagen Group, they detected manipulations that violate American environmental standards.

Volkswagen has already admitted to illegal use of software to change emissions test results in 11 million of its diesel engine cars. So far, some 25 class-action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of affected vehicle owners. Volkswagen is now facing investigations by the EPA, DOJ and other agencies in the EU, Canada and other countries. New York and other states are in the process of launching their own investigations.

The company has said it is setting aside $7 billion to deal with the fallout. But EPA estimates that the Volkswagen Group could end up having to pay fines of up to $37,500 per vehicle, which would add up to more than $18 billion. With tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in state investments at stake in Tennessee, there’s valid concern about how this huge issue will impact the company’s operations.

Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO OF Volkswagen AG, issued a statement in which he says that “We at Volkswagen will do everything that must be done in order to re-establish the trust that so many people have placed in us, and we will do everything necessary in order to reverse the damage this has caused.”

Chattanooga Lands West Star Aviation MRO Facility

West Star Aviation is opening a new maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport.

West Star Aviation

West Star Aviation (photo – weststaraviation.com)

West Star is investing $22.3 million investment to establish its MRO operations in an existing hangar at the airport. The company plans to create 200 new jobs in Chattanooga and Hamilton County over the next five years.

The hangar offers them more than 40,000 square feet of mixed-use space for administrative and customer offices, engineering avionics, cabinetry and upholstery shop functions, as well as accommodate storage of customer aircraft parts.

East Alton, IL-based West Star Aviation, Inc. already has MRO operations in East Alton, IL; Grand Junction and Aspen, CO; Columbia, SC; and Chesterfield, MO. The company specializes in repair and maintenance of airframes, windows and engines, as well as major modifications, avionics installation and repair, interior refurbishment, surplus avionics sales, accessory services, paint and parts.

Governor Bill Haslam said in a release that “We want to welcome West Star Aviation to Tennessee and thank them for this investment in Chattanooga and Hamilton County.”

West Star Chief Operating Officer Rodger Renaud said in the release that the aviation-friendly location and existing facilities will allow West Star to better serve East Coast corporate aviation flight departments. Renaud added that this expansion represents the initial steps in a larger five-year plan that calls for continued growth in the Chattanooga area.

The location’s ground lease footprint includes 238,875 square feet, offering ample ramp space for uncongested aircraft movement. An additional 15-acre site adjacent to the facility is available for expansion if West Star needs it.

The project was supported by Tennessee Economic and Community Development, Hamilton County and the City of Chattanooga, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, and TVA and EPB of Chattanooga.

TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd said in the release that they’re pleased to add West Star Aviation to the growing list of aviation companies who are taking advantage of the wide range of benefits being located in Tennessee has to offer.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said that with this announcement, they are seeing Chattanooga economic development growth and the creation of even more new jobs.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger likewise added that this is another exciting addition to Hamilton County’s continuing quest for new economic development.

TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said in the release that they are pleased to partner with the TNECD, the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County to facilitate West Star Aviation’s new location decision.

Ryder Expansion in Spring Hill, TN to Create 606 New Jobs

Fleet management and supply chain solutions company Ryder Supply Chain Solutions is expanding its operations in Spring Hill, TN.

Ryder

Ryder (photo – JLaw45/flickr)

Ryder will invest $16.5 million to double the size of its Spring Hill warehousing operations from 300,000 square feet to 600,000 square feet.

The expansion will also enable the company to create approximately 606 new jobs over the next five years, in the process quadrupling its current Maury County workforce of 200.

Steve Sensing, President, Global Supply Chain Solutions for Ryder, said in a release announcing the expansion that they are proud to expand Ryder’s world-class Spring Hill logistics operation in support of their growing business in this market.

Sensing added that they have served customers in Spring Hill for decades, and the area is flush with talent enabling them to meet their customers’ logistics needs.

Governor Bill Haslam said in the release that “Tennessee’s central geographic location and incredible logistics infrastructure offer companies around the world a great setting for growth and success.”

The Governor added that they want to thank Ryder for choosing to expand in Spring Hill and adding more than 600 new jobs to the Maury County workforce.

Tennessee Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd likewise noted that Tennessee is the top state in the nation for overall infrastructure and global access, making it an outstanding choice for Ryder’s latest expansion.

Commissioner Boyd added that he appreciates Ryder’s continued investment in Tennessee and for creating hundreds of new jobs in Spring Hill.

Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance President Wil Evans congratulated Ryder and thanked them for the continued investment in the community. Evans noted that it is always exciting to see existing industries grow, and Ryder’s decision to expand in the county further solidifies that Maury County is a great place to do business.

Miami, FL-based Ryder System, Inc. (NYSE:R) was founded in 1993 by James Ryder, who put down a $35 down payment on a 1931 Model A Ford truck to haul concrete.

Ryder is now a FORTUNE 500 company with divisions for everything from fleet management to large-scale supply chain solutions and turnkey transportation solutions. The company manages critical transportation and logistics functions for more than 50,000 customers and generated $6.638 billion in revenue last year through operations spread across North America, the U.K. and parts of Asia.

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