VOL. 113 | NO. 32 | Tuesday, February 16, 1999
By LAURIE JOHNSON
West Tennessee sets capital investment record in 1998
By LAURIE JOHNSON
The Daily News
Companies spent more than $857 million to build new plants or expand existing ones in West Tennessee during 1998 a record high for capital investment in the area.
The creation of 18 new manufacturing operations and the expansion of 76 existing industries contributed to 1998s boost in capital investments, an amount nearly double that of 1997s $466 million, according to the West Tennessee Industrial Association.
New and expanding companies accounted for 4,315 new jobs in 1998, up slightly from 4,223 new positions created in 1997.
"Once again, our communities proved that its not the size of the dog in the fight that matters," said WTIA executive director Michael M. Philpot.
"The communities of West Tennessee may be small but they are able to get the job done."
According to the WTIAs 1998 annual report, there were 18 manufacturing and distribution newcomers to the 21 counties that make up West Tennessee.
New companies to the area accounted for $406 million in new capital investment to the area, and 1,110 new jobs, said Lynn Compton, 1998 president of WTIA and manager of Carroll County Electrical Department.
Norandal Quantum Leap, a light-gauge aluminum sheet-metal manufacturer, was the areas largest new enterprise.
The company plans to invest $240 million to build a 470,000-square-foot manufacturing center in Huntingdon, which will add 207 new jobs to the area.
"This is one of the single largest plant expansions into West Tennessee," Compton said.
Other newcomers included Midwest Woodworking in Bethel Springs; ENRON Corp. and Technicolor Embroidery in Brownsville; Drake Roofing Inc. in Halls; and Wilkie Metal Products Inc. in Jackson.
Elliott-MagneTek Power Systems and Manufacturers Industrial Group opened new operations in Lexington, bringing 40 jobs and 250 jobs, respectively, to the area.
Heartland Fasteners Inc. and Valley Crating & Packing are expected to create a total of 51 new jobs in Martin.
Other companies relocating to the area include Assembly Component Systems in Middleton; Robinson-Joyner Fabricating in Moscow; Lund International in Paris; H&H Service Mechanisms in Parsons; Wicker Sportswear in Selmer; Johnny Rabb Drumstick Co. in Toone; Kellwood Co. in Trenton and Brownstone Co. in Trezevant.
Announced expansions of area companies accounted for $451 million in capital investments in West Tennessee last year and created 3,205 new jobs, Compton said.
Companies expanding their operations include Lucerne Products Inc. of Bolivar; UNIMIN Corp. in Camden; Tenneco Packaging in Counce; Mueller Fittings and World Color Press Inc. in Covington; Kellwood Distribution in Dyer; Firestone Industrial Products and Forcum-Lannom Inc. in Dyersburg; Hunt Wesson Inc. in Humboldt; Owens Corning Fiberglass Corp., Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Co., Tennalum and Wolverine Tube in Jackson; Coca Cola Bottling Co., Johnson Controls, Wildridge Machine Shop and MagneTek/Century Electric in Lexington; Lund International in McKenzie; Komatsu America International Co. in Ripley; and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in Union City.
Compton attributed the increase in new and expanding companies to the areas strong economy, plentiful labor force, improved major highways and cooperation between local industrial and economic development groups and chambers of commerce.
Economic development incentives offered by the Tennessee Valley Authority, including energy programs and low interest business development loans, also played a part in attracting and keeping new businesses, he said.
In 1998, new and expanding manufacturing and distribution enterprises invested a total of $5.5 billion in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
Of that, 35 percent was invested in Middle Tennessee, 33 percent in West Tennessee and 32 percent in East Tennessee.
According to the WTIA, the record for new plants in West Tennessee was set in 1988 with 54 new enterprises.
The record for existing company expansions was set in 1989, with 144 companies announcing expansion plans.
A record number of new jobs 6,533 also was created in the area that year.