› Biggest business deals of 2017,
n 2016, Rhea County suffered the loss of thousands of jobs with the closing of the Goodman Manufacturing plant and the completion of the Watts Bar unit 2 nuclear reactor. As a result, the jobless rate rose to the highest of any of Tennessee’s 95 counties through most of the past year.
But 2017 brought better economic news for Rhea County which should generate hundreds of new jobs in 2018. Dayton landed the biggest foreign investment in Rhea County history — and the biggest new business investment announced in 2017 in the Chattanooga region — with the decision by Nokian Tyres to build a $360 million tire plant in the 330-acre industrial park built along a rail line just north of Dayton. The Finnish tire maker plans to hire 400 workers for the first phase of the project, which could eventually grow on the available site to up to 1,600 jobs.
Also this year, Huber Engineered Woods said it is spending
$50 million to reactivate its Spring
City, Tenn., plant, adding at least 132 jobs, and La-Z-Boy is adding an R&D facility in Dayton with a pledge to add
“From an economic development standpoint, we’ve seen the highs and we’ve seen the lows in the past couple of years and we’re on a hot streak right now,” said Dennis Tumlin, executive director for the Rhea County Economic and Tourism Council. “We see bright days ahead as this industrial growth drives both residential and retail growth.”
The Rhea County rebound reflects the outward growth in the Chattanooga region as the economic recovery entered its eighth year since the Great Recession.
The past year didn’t match the dollar volume of previous years over the past decade, which included the $2.5 billion Wacker Chemical plant in Charleston, the $5 billion reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City and more than $2 billion of projects by Volkswagen in Chattanooga and its suppliers.
But even with the biggest construction projects in the region completed in previous years, builders are still staying busy with new projects announced or under construction during 2017.
Chattanooga added its biggest hotel project ever with the November opening of the Westin Hotel as the anchor to $88 million of projects in the redeveloping West End of downtown. Several existing businesses, including M&M Industries, Lodge Manufacturing and HomeServe, expanded operations this year to collectively add nearly 400 jobs.
Chattanooga’s biggest hospital, Erlanger Health System, is building or partnering with others on nearly $100 million of medical expansions in the biggest capital spending initiative in Erlanger’s 128year history. Erlanger is building a new
Lodge completes $90 million expansion in South Pittsburg, adding 90 jobs Bass Pro Shops buys Cabela’s for $4 billion La-Z-Boy is adding a $16 million R&D facility in Dayton to add 115 jobs Westin Hotel opens in downtown Chattanooga as part of $88 million upgrades of the West End of Chattanooga.