Metro Spotlight: Johnson City, Tennessee

Johnson City: A Perfect 10 in Tennessee

Once a 19th century railroad depot, Johnson City, TN has grown into a successful city with deep musical and historical roots. Positioned in the far eastern stretches of Tennessee, Johnson City spans Washington, Carter and Sullivan Counties. The MSA’s estimated population was 181,607 in 2006, with approximately 60,000 people residing in the city limits. Intelligent residents and a burgeoning business climate combine to make Johnson City one of Tennessee’s most notable metro areas.

The knowledge community present at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), home to 13,000 students, solidifies Johnson City’s educational foundation. The public university includes the James H. Quillen College of Medicine, which was ranked fourth in the United States for excellence in rural medical education in 2009’s U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” ETSU also was ranked in the top 25% of medical schools for primary care education. The university has a College of Pharmacy, as well.

In the business realm, Johnson City recently was ranked tenth by Forbes magazine’s “Best Smaller Metro Area for Business and Careers.” In 2007, Washington County’s workforce totaled 60,600 strong, with a countywide unemployment rate of 4.1%, down from 4.9% in 2005 and 5% in 2003, according to the Tennessee Department of Employment Security.

Washington Welcomes Two Japanese Auto Suppliers

On October 27, 2008, two Japanese companies held an official opening and building dedication ceremony at the Washington County Industrial Park, located on Highway 11E near Johnson City, TN. Koyo Corporation of USA and Nakatetsu Machining Technologies broke ground in November of 2006 and their new manufacturing facilities became fully operational in May of this year.

Both companies are involved in the manufacturing of bearings for the automotive industry and have brought approximately 100 to 150 new jobs, consisting primarily of machining, grinding, assembly, skilled trades and professional positions, to Johnson City and the surrounding area.

“This is a positive development for Tennessee and Washington County,” says Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. “Attracting good-paying manufacturing jobs is an important part of our job creation strategy. Having our efforts embraced by automotive industry leaders like Koyo and Nakatetsu is a strong endorsement of Tennessee’s business climate.”

Koyo Corporation of USA’s General Manager Steve McCullough believes the new facilities will be an important step for both companies’ growing businesses.

“Our preliminary selection of Washington County reflects our commitment to American manufacturing and the American worker,” says McCullough. “Increased consumer demand for our products requires increased manufacturing capabilities to complement our other U.S. plants and relationships. Washington County meets our needs with an experienced workforce and an ideal logistical location, plus the outstanding commitment and cooperation from the state, county, TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority], regional utilities and the surrounding cities.”

Syuji Nakano, CEO of Nakatetsu Machining Technologies, says, “This joint venture fits with our corporate strategy of growth in the automotive market. After looking at many locations, we are excited about…locating our first manufacturing facility in Washington County. We appreciate the time and effort spent by the state, county, TVA and many local agencies. We are very confident that the workforce surrounding Washington County will help us in establishing a world-class operation and support our target for growth and expansion.”