› Big­gest business deals of 2017,

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - FRONT PAGE -

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

115 jobs.

“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.

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