TN Awards Two $1M-Plus Grants For Economic Development Projects

Photo Credit: Chewy / Facebook

Published September 1, 2021

By Jon Styf [The Center Square contributor] –

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development revealed it awarded $1.25 million to Kaiser Aluminum Investments to move its company headquarters from California to Franklin.

TNECD also granted pet-supply online retailer Chewy $2.1 million for its fulfillment center in Wilson County.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

The grants are FastTrack grants from the state and are given to companies for either job training projects, infrastructure development or come from the special economic development fund for “relocating equipment, purchasing equipment, building repairs and improvements, temporary office space or other temporary equipment related to relocation or expansion. These economic development funds are intended to be used in exceptional circumstances when the funds will make a proportionally significant economic impact on the affected community.”

TNECD typically will announce an economic development project without revealing any state incentives. It then will post the incentive amount of a FastTrack grant to its public database within 15-30 days of the announcement.

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The most-recent incentives posted from July show Kairos Power and Smart USA Company each received $500,000 grants, while Barrette Outdoor Living received $874,800 for its $33 million Hawkins County expansion that is expected to create 162 new jobs in Bulls Gap.

“As one of the top five employers in Hawkins County, Barrette Outdoor Living has established itself as a valuable corporate partner in the Northeast region of our state,” TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe said. “These 160 new, family-wage jobs will make a tremendous impact on the area’s workforce.”

TNECD approved $108.5 million in FastTrack grants in the first half of 2021, with $60 million going to Ultium Cells for a 2.8-million-square-foot plant in Spring Hill for building vehicle battery cells.

Kaiser Aluminum is a $1.8 billion publicly traded corporation that makes specialty aluminum products and employs 3,700 people with 14 manufacturing facilities across the country.

“Kaiser Aluminum has been a long-term employer in Tennessee through our Tennalum facility in Jackson and more recently with our new sales office in Knoxville,” Kaiser President and CEO Keith Harvey said when the project was announced. “We look forward to expanding our presence in Tennessee as we relocate and transition our corporate headquarters to Franklin. Williamson County provides the benefit of a corporate friendly business environment and access to a highly talented workforce that fits well with Kaiser Aluminum’s corporate value of being a preferred employer and a great place to work.”

The new Chewy facility, projected to open in fall 2022, is expected to employ 1,200 people in Mt. Juliet.

“At 1,200 jobs, Chewy will become one of the top three largest employers in Wilson County,” Rolfe said.

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About the Author:

Jon Styf is a freelance writer for Tennessee and South Carolina. Follow Jon on Twitter @JonStyf.

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