Tennessee Chemical and Plastics Industry Increases Job Opportunities
Tennessee’s chemical and plastics industry cluster is providing solid benefits to the state.
Chemical Companies Expand in Tennessee
A number of global players in chemical and plastics production have put down roots in Tennessee, which remains an attractive location for new investment.
Olin Corp. broke ground in July 2011 on a facility that will expand production of potassium hydroxide at its Charleston, Tenn., facility. Olin will invest more than $160 million and preserve 350 jobs at its existing facility in Bradley County.
“We are delighted to makes this investment in the Charleston community, which has been home to our plant since 1962,” says Frank Chirumbole, president of Olin Chlor Alkali Products, based in nearby Cleveland, Tenn. Olin officials say they were greatly helped with a series of state incentives, including a $41 million in Tennessee tax-exempt, variable rate Recovery Zone Facility bonds.
Austin Powder, an Ohio-based company, announced plans to build a facility on 400 acres in Greene County to produce liquid ammonium nitrate. Operating the plant under the name U.S. Nitrogen, Austin will invest more than $110 million and create 80 new jobs with an annual payroll of $4 million. Austin Powder officials said that Greene County offers a solid and dependable workforce, a superior business climate and tremendous transportation accessibility.
Foreign companies have also made sizeable investments in the state. Leading nonwoven material producer Japan Vilene Co. has announced that its VIAM Manufacturing Inc. is locating its VICAM subsidiary in Manchester, Tenn. The facility, which is expected to open in 2011, will invest more than $32 million and create 70 jobs.
The facility will make a polyester-based carpet fiber by recycling clear plastic bottles. The carpet fiber will then be used in headliner, seat backs and door panels in the automotive industry. The 44,000-square-foot plant in Coffee County will be located on a 12-acre site and could potentially triple in size in the future.
Tennessee's Eastman Leader in Manufacturing
Tennessee’s largest employer in the chemical/plastics industry sector is Eastman Chemical Co., headquartered in Kingsport. Eastman employs more than 6,500 workers there and has annual revenues of more than $5.8 billion. The facility manufactures hundreds of chemicals, fibers and plastics found in products that people use every day.
The Eastman facility has more than 550 buildings and about 4,000 acres of land, with its main production facility covering 900 acres. By the end of 2011, Eastman will complete a five-year, $1.3 billion reinvestment project to upgrade and expands its Kingsport facilities.
Eastman officials cite several reasons why they like the Volunteer State, including its positive business climate, skilled workforce, excellent quality of life, great interstate highway and rail systems, and strong educational institutions.
“The employees at Eastman are very dedicated and loyal to the company," says Parker Smith, vice president and general manager of worldwide operations support and quality at Eastman Chemical. "That’s why we have so many employees with over 25 years of service. Bottom line, it’s the quality of the people in our area that make this such a great place to do business."
Tennessee Chemical and Plastics by the Numbers
Number of Chemical Manufacturers: 369
Number of Plastics/Rubber Manufacturers: 420
Total Exports Combined: $3.5 billion
Total Employment Combined: 52,000
Percent of Total State Employment: 15 percent
Source: Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development