From U of M pompon girls to Elvis Music to steppers dressed in Memphis Grizzlies uniforms, the Memphis Chamber of Commerce Christmas luncheon had all the entertainment value of an episode of Jay Leno's defunct variety show - only 10 times better - because the special guest stars came bearing news of major import to the future of the Bluff City. Global appliance giant Electrolux is ready to sweep into Memphis with 1,200 jobs in a new manufacturing plant scheduled to be in operation in the summer of 2012.
“This is an immediate $190 million investment. Electrolux is building a 700,000 square foot production facility at Frank C. Pigeon Industrial Park,” announced Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen.
“[It’s] for the thousands of folks who don't have jobs. But, more importantly the thousands of folks who were beginning to lose hope these jobs won't be under the tree this year. But, hope will be under the tree because they'll see help is on the way,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.
Kevin Scott, President of Electrolux's North American operations, says the new facility will join a current Electrolux operation in Springfield, Tennessee which employees 3000 workers in manufacturing cooking products. The Memphis facility, when thoroughly completed in 2013, is projected to produce more than 750,000 ovens a year for consumers. Scott says the choice of Memphis over sites in Alabama and North Carolina was based on a number of factors, with the most encouraging being a belief in the available workforce.
“Very good jobs and we're looking for very capable employees and our research says that right here we're going to be quite happy,” Scott said.
The coup of snapping up another manufacturing diamond for the Volunteer State was the perfect going away present for Governor Bredesen and Matt Kizber, the energetic Tennessee Commissioner of Economic development. Kizber attributes the key to attracting such businesses as Electrolux to the strengths shown through solid partnerships between local government and business.
“It's where they feel hostility between business and the local government is where companies get scared and quite frankly don't want to invest and don't want to grow there,” said Kizber.
“I think that the strength of Tennessee has had and I think the strength that we have here in Memphis is that everybody likes each other and everybody works together constructively,” added Governor Bredesen.
“I'll make this promise to all the folks here in Memphis: there's more to come,” Mayor Wharton stated.
That means there could be another big show in the offing. Hey, maybe Jay Leno could pick up some pointers…