Tennessee Corporate Moves

Hemlock Semiconductor to Build $2.5 Billion Plant in Clarksville

The Hemlock Semiconductor Group will invest up to $2.5 billion to locate a polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon) manufacturing operation in Clarksville, TN at the Commerce Park megasite in the northeastern edge of the city. If plans are fully implemented, it will be the largest corporate capital investment in Tennessee history.

After a two-year global search of more than two dozen sites, The Hemlock Semiconductor Group, which includes two Dow Corning Corporation joint ventures, Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation and Hemlock Semiconductor LLC, finally decided on a location. “Tennessee’s business climate coupled with a superb site in Clarksville, a strong, productive workforce and an excellent location in proximity to our supply chain and customers made this the right decision,” said Hemlock Semiconductor President and CEO Rick Doornbos. “This investment will allow us to meet growing customer demand in both the near term and in the decades ahead.”

The Clarksville facility will produce polycrystalline silicon, a primary component used to manufacture solar cells and semiconductor devices. While most of the polysilicon will be consumed by firms in the solar industry, the site also will have the capability to make ultra-pure silicon for the electronics industry as well as solar-grade material. Upon completion, the new facility will have the capacity to manufacture up to 10,000 metric tons of polysilicon annually with the potential to expand to a production level of 21,000 metric tons.

Groundbreaking on the new plant is expected in March 2009 and will create up to 1,000 jobs in construction and related crafts during the building phase. Projected to open in 2012, the Clarksville facility itself will create 500 jobs with the potential of employing up to 900 people within five to seven years. The plant will occupy the entire 1,215-acre Commerce Park megasite and the company plans to acquire an additional 947 acres adjacent to the site for additional build-out and buffer space.

“The exact scale of this investment will be determined by market conditions. Making this investment in today’s volatile economic climate is a testament to both the long term outlook of the solar industry as well as Hemlock Semiconductor’s ability to add capacity to meet the needs of customers,” said Doornbos.

In conjunction with this new industrial development, Austin Peay State University has received a $6.4-million grant to develop and train a workforce for the incoming Hemlock Semiconductor Plant. This includes a new campus building, six new chemical technology professors and about eleven new professors for other core credit requirements toward the school’s new associate’s degree in Chemical Engineering Technology. The curriculum is set to begin in fall 2009 so as to give students enough time to complete the program prior to Clarksville’s start in late 2012. “When the plant opens, it will be in operation from Day 1. Our employees have to be trained and ready to start Day 1,” said Laura Lambeth, sites and expansions human resources manager for Hemlock.

“This huge success proves that going through the diligent megasite certification process and being prepared gives a community a strong advantage,” said John Bradley, senior vice president, economic development, Tennessee Valley Authority. “The state of Tennessee, Clarksville-Montgomery County and community leaders have been working towards this day for two and a half years.”

“This announcement shows Tennessee’s commitment to becoming a significant player in the development of ‘green collar’ jobs related to clean energy technologies,” said Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. “With this announcement, Hemlock Semiconductor and Dow Corning have signaled a major shift in the direction of Tennessee’s and the nation’s economies.” Bredesen noted that it is not simply the immediate creation of new jobs but the ability to attract related industries and suppliers to the state and region.

Manufacturing spin-offs appear likely as HSC manufactures one-third of the world’s polysilicon supply for solar cells. And according to researchers, every manufacturing job adds at least 3.5 workers to the service or retail sector. Bredesen hopes this is just the beginning and says, “Announcements like Hemlock’s have gotten the attention of the renewable-energy sector. Let’s take the steps necessary to move from a single announcement to the development of an entire industry in Tennessee.”

U.S. Marble Sites Southeast Distribution in Johnson City

U.S. Marble, headquartered in Remus, MI, has announced plans to locate a new distribution facility serving the southeastern states in Johnson City, TN.

The company has purchased a 65,000-square-foot facility (former the location of Snap-on Tools) located at 2416 Watauga Road. According to owner John Bishop, the company plans to initially hire 10 to 15 employees when the business begins its operations in April.

U.S. Marble’s product line includes vanity tops, tubs and showers, window sills, and floor tile used in residential construction and renovation. Bishop said that as U.S. Marble sales volumes grow in the southeastern states, the Johnson City location will take on some manufacturing and fabricating business, though that will come through organic company growth and not as a relocation of its Michigan operations.

“From looking on a map and evaluating the highway system and Johnson City’s central location to serve eastern and southeastern U.S. markets, we felt that this is the perfect site for our expansion,” Bishop stated.

Crete Carrier Eyes New Maintenance Center

Crete Carrier Corporation, one of the largest privately owned trucking companies in the country, has announced the building of an $8.4-million maintenance center in East Tennessee. If things go well, the project could be done as early as summer 2009.

The facility will be located in Roane County on the former Atomic Speedway site off of Interstate 40. According to the nation’s truck drivers in Overdrive magazine’s Highway Report Card, Interstate 40 in Tennessee has been ranked the best road in the U.S. for the third year in a row.

Originally set to add 40 to 60 jobs, Crete now looks to hire 388 people within three years after the trucking firm’s center is built. “It’s a much, much larger employment commitment than we had thought at first,” said Leslie Henderson, president and CEO of the Roane Alliance, which leads the county’s economic development efforts.

The center will consist of an 8,000-square-foot office and a 10-bay maintenance area. And according to Crete Executive Vice President Karel Znamenacek, Jr., the average wage for workers at the new facility will be $16.67/hour. Long-range plans call for 40 to 50 trucks to leave the facility everyday.

Headquartered in Lincoln, NB, Crete Carrier started in 1966. The company has 5,700 trucks, 12,999 trailers and more than 6,000 employees.

Standard Candy Finds Sweet Spot in Nashville

Standard Candy Company, best known for its Goo Goo Clusters, is moving its Eastman, GA manufacturing operations to the company’s headquarters in Nashville, TN.

“The Eastman plant was built in the 1950s and is in need of major upgrades,” said James Spradley, Jr., Standard Candy Co.’s CEO. “We worked with engineers and architects to evaluate the feasibility of continuing to operate two facilities, and ultimately decided it was in the best interest of the company to consolidate our operations to one location.”

The company plans to close the Eastman plant by April and move all 250 jobs to Nashville. Full-time employees will have 45 days to decide if they would like a transfer. Those who decline will be replaced in Nashville, nearly doubling the plant’s local employment.

The Nashville plant, which employs more than 300 management and production line workers, will expand its facility to accommodate the additional staff by adding 30,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Matt Kisber said, “I think it’s a great statement Standard Candy Co. is making, bringing those jobs to Nashville, about the vitality of our business climate and the skills of our workforce.”

The maker of the famous Goo Goo Candy Cluster began as Anchor Candy Company, founded in 1901 in Nashville by Howell H. Campbell Sr. He was 19 years old when he opened his candy company at Clark Street and First Avenue North. Campbell started with two copper kettles and about a dozen employees. In 1903, he reorganized Anchor and incorporated the business as Standard Candy Company. In 1914, a fire forced the company to move to a three-story brick building on Second Avenue North, where Standard remained for the next 65 years.