State Rep. Dan Howell and state Sen. Mike Bell, whose legislative reach far exceeds the immediate Cleveland area, are beaming over a Bradley County neighbor’s employment news.In a joint …
State Rep. Dan Howell and state Sen. Mike Bell, whose legislative reach far exceeds the immediate Cleveland area, are beaming over a Bradley County neighbor’s employment news.
In a joint announcement released late Friday, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, in partnership with Shaw Industries Group Inc., confirmed the floor products manufacturer will invest $42 million to upgrade its yarn facility in Decatur.
The plant modernization will also create 75 new jobs.
Howell, who spreads his attention across the entire 22nd Legislative District (Meigs and Polk counties, as well as part of Bradley), said the manufacturing expansion plans disclosed by TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe are a refreshing development for the Meigs community.
“Shaw is Meigs County’s largest employer,” the Georgetown lawmaker said. “The importance of saving the existing jobs, and adding 75 more, cannot be overstated.”
Howell, who is rapidly becoming a House of Representatives mainstay, called it a “… win-win for both Shaw and the community.”
A Bradley County native and father of five who now farms in McMinn County, Bell’s jurisdiction, includes the vast 9th Senatorial District which includes Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe and Polk counties.
As a longstanding senator, one of his roles is to keep a keen eye on employment strength in Southeast Tennessee, which is a reason he — like Howell — is elated over the Shaw announcement.
Among his legislative duties, Bell serves as chairman of the high-powered Senate Government Operations Committee. He also serves as a member of the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, as well as the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I want to thank ECD Commissioner Rolfe for working with state Rep. [Dan] Howell and with me to keep this plant in Meigs County,” Bell said. “Many families depend upon the Shaw plant for their livelihood and I’m confident the investment and expansion will prove to be a good decision.”
In August, Meigs County’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent, down from 5.6 in July. The total Meigs workforce was recorded at 5,000, with 4,750 of those employed. By comparison, the Bradley County rate was 3.5.
Updated county jobless rates for Tennessee for the month of September will be released later this week by the Tennessee Department of Employment and Workforce Development.
Like Howell and Bell, the state ECD commissioner pointed to the importance of Shaw in Meigs County’s economic fortunes.
“As the largest employer in Meigs County, Shaw plays a pivotal role in the economic well-being of the area and its residents,” Rolfe stressed. “It’s encouraging news that Shaw will create 75 new jobs in the region.”
He called the company’s commitment “… a testament to the skills of Meigs County’s workforce and Tennessee’s overall business climate.”
According to the joint announcement, Shaw’s plant modernization will expand capabilities allowing the manufacturer to use both nylon and polyester fiber at the Meigs County plant.
Shaw’s facility in Decatur supplies yarn for the company’s carpet-manufacturing locations.
The Decatur plant employs about 370 workers in Meigs County. Statewide, Shaw operates five facilities in Tennessee, employing more than 650, according to the Nashville-based announcement.
The TNECD media statement also credits Shaw’s Chairman and CEO Vance Bell who explained the benefits of modernizing the Decatur plant.
“By continuing to invest in our people, processes and products, Shaw is able to provide a diverse product mix, innovative design and the greatest quality and service to our customers,” Bell stated.
He added, “The upgrades to this facility are indicative of our commitment to advanced manufacturing and enhancing our operations as we rapidly respond to shifts in the market and customer preferences.”
Meigs County Mayor Bill James also lauded the decision. He echoed the sentiments of others, that Shaw remains the county’s largest employer and for this reason he and area residents are “… proud of its continued investment in our community.”
J. Gid Redmond, president of the Meigs-Decatur Economic Development Corporation, offered his perspective as a leader whose job it is to work to keep his community’s economy growing.
“Shaw’s commitment to our county has been, and continues to be, a much valued partnership,” Redmond said. “We are very honored to have played a role in facilitating and extending this relationship. Growth of existing companies in our community is a primary focus for the board.”
He added, “This is a big success for Meigs County people, as most of our growth comes from companies expanding existing operations here.”
Headquartered in Dalton, Ga., Shaw is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Shaw offers a diverse portfolio of carpet, hardwood, tile, stone and laminate flooring products, as well as synthetic turf and other specialty items for residential and commercial markets worldwide.
Corporation brands include Anderson, Patcraft, Philadelphia Commercial, Shaw Contract, Shaw Floors, Shaw Hospitality, Shaw Sports Turf, Southwest Greens, Tuftex and USFloors, among others.
Shaw employs more than 20,000 workers globally.
“Shaw is Meigs County’s largest employer. The importance of saving the existing jobs, and adding 75 more, cannot be overstated.” — State Rep. Dan Howell
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