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By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Friday was a celebration of economic development in Trousdale County with both the ribbon cutting of ARC Automotive’s new Hartsville facility and the dedication of a new industrial access road built in the PowerCom site.

County and state officials came out to recognize over $7 million worth of development in Hartsville.

“This was a blessing, that ARC Automotive came this way,” said County Mayor Carroll Carman. “We rejoice in their presence in Trousdale County.”

Photos by Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

ARC Automotive, which is headquartered in Knoxville, announced in May 2014 that it would build a facility to expand its capacity for airbag inflator production. ARC also has a plant in Morgantown, Ky.

The facility currently has 12 full-time employees and will have between 60 and 70 employees once production is ramped up to capacity. ARC has invested $5.7 million in the PowerCom facility since the 2014 announcement.

“I feel very privileged to be part of this investment and opportunity to bring jobs to this area,” said Tim Frazier, general manager of ARC’s Hartsville plant. “One of the things that stands out about Tennessee and Hartsville is the sense of community. Whenever I meet (folks) out in the area, they’re very friendly and helpful.

“ARC could not be here on its own. Tennessee Central, Tri-County (Electric), Trousdale County, TVA, everyone has been very supportive here.”

The project was delayed slightly after a number of planned economic incentives were removed by the state. Tennessee’s Department of Economic Development mistakenly classified Trousdale as a Tier I county instead of Tier II, putting Trousdale (in the state’s eyes) on par with Sumner, Wilson and Williamson counties.

Appeals to the state were later accepted and Trousdale returned to Tier II status. The reclassification allowed for nearly $900,000 in incentives for ARC.

“This project is, as economic developers, something you dream about,” added Charly Lyons, Executive Director of Tennessee Central Economic Alliance (formerly Four Lake). “It took a while, a lot of things happened.

“This company puts Trousdale County in the automobile industry, which is an excellent opportunity. It’s becoming pretty dominant in Tennessee and in the South.”

“It comes down to the vision locally for us to be able to lay out a project anywhere,” said Clay Banks, regional director of TNECD. “We know a job is a direct pathway to economic prosperity.”

ARC provides inflators for automotive airbags and has over 70 years of experience in design technology. Some of the company’s newest technological advances will be utilized at the Hartsville plant, Frazier said.

“What we are doing here in Hartsville is not being done anywhere else,” he said. “We’re developing a new gas generate for the propellant for the airbag industry. Hartsville is the only propellant manufacturing site in ARC.”

Once production reaches capacity, Frazier said the Hartsville plant would create 1,000 kilograms, or just over 2,200 pounds, of propellant every day, which will be used in 7 million cars annually.

 

Access to site

Prior to the ARC ribbon cutting, another ceremony was held to formally open a new industrial access road, Tennessee Central Boulevard. The road begins at the intersection with Trousdale Way and extends over a mile, going up to ARC’s site located near the CoreCivic prison.

The road was built using Tennessee Department of Transportation funds and came at an estimated cost of $1.6 million, according to Carman. The State Industrial Access Program provides funding and technical assistance for highway access to new and expanding industries in Tennessee.

“We congratulate Trousdale County on what we feel is going to be a great project,” said Will Reid, assistant chief engineer of operations for TDOT. “We always look forward to working with local municipalities to help stimulate economic growth.”

“This road has been about four years in the making,” Lyons added. “I want to thank TDOT, Trousdale County and Tennessee Central for making this happen.”

The road was built by Vulcan Materials after some delays because of environmental studies and other required surveys.

“We were standing on gravel three years ago, and in some areas, thickets, briars and bramble,” Carman said. “Now we have a beautiful road that is going to really open up our industrial park.”

Lyons also thanked current and former members of the Tennessee Central board of directors, including Carman, Smith County Mayor Michael Nesbitt, Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt, Mae Perry, Phillip Holder, Shelby Linville and Jake West.

State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver and State Sen. Ferrell Haile, who were both in attendance, were also recognized for their support of TCEA and for the TDOT program that allowed for the road construction.

“Anytime we get to be part of opening a brand new road, it signifies progress and shows we’re moving forward,” Weaver said. “Good roads and good people on the team make for what we all want to see: good jobs and being able to get there.”

“Roads lead to opportunities,” Haile added. “This will be an economic boon for citizens, not just for Trousdale County, but surrounding counties.”

Part of the ceremony included dedicating two connector roads in the PowerCom park that were named for former Tennessee Central employees: Teresa Lane (named for longtime office manager Teresa Carman) and Rigsby Road (named for Don Rigsby, former executive director of TCEA).

Trousdale County was also recognized as a ThreeStar county, which recognizes communities and local leaders who work to impact the community’s competitiveness in a global economy.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.