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Gallatin revives efforts to attract manufacturing
By BUSH BERNARD
GALLATIN — Manufacturing is back on the front burner for the city's economic development efforts.
After a successful stretch of emphasizing a need for more retail establishments for this Sumner County community, the city has again beefed up its efforts to lure manufacturing operations. It marked the occasion yesterday with the start of construction of a 62,000-square-foot plant for PK USA Inc., a Nissan North America supplier based in Shelbyville, Ind.
PK USA is a joint venture between Press Kogyo Co. and Mitsui & Co., two Japanese firms. It will assemble metal body components for the Altima and Maxima sedans that are assembled at Nissan's Smyrna plant. The company will employ between 50 and 60 people at its plant in the industrial park here when it opens next spring.
''We're excited about manufacturing jobs,'' said Tommy Burns, executive director of Gallatin's Economic Development Agency.
In the past three years, Gallatin has built its retailer base while manufacturing has been in a slump. The city has added a Chili's, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and O'Charley's restaurants. There's a new Super Wal-Mart, and Belk's is building a department store in town.
The retail sector will help the community, providing needed jobs and tax revenue, but manufacturing jobs are a key to growth, Burns said.
''To me, in a community, it starts with manufacturing,'' he said.
Most of the people PK USA will hire for its new plant will come from the area, company spokesman and Vice President Bill Kent said.
A few people, such as plant manager Lloyd Rose, will come from the company's Indiana operations. Five or six will be administrative employees, with the remainder involved in production, Kent said.
Company executives and state and local officials gathered for the formal groundbreaking ceremony at the plant site yesterday. Construction will begin in earnest almost immediately, Kent said.
The plant is the first expansion for the company outside of Indiana. Nissan's new growth plan, dubbed Nissan 180, prompted the move.
Nissan plans to sell an additional 1 million vehicles worldwide, boost its operating margin to 8% and have no automotive debt by September 2005. The Japanese automaker wants its suppliers to be willing to take a risk and expand with Nissan's growth.
''They have been successful in fulfilling these requirements,'' Nissan Purchasing Manager Dennis Rowland said of PK USA.
The company expects to begin hiring shortly after the first of the year. It will start preliminary production runs in March and will be in full production in July 2004, Kent said.
The company will build components for future Nissan vehicles and hopes to expand its client base. Nissan represents about 60% of the company's business. It also builds parts for Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Subaru and General Motors Corp.'s Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Ky., and Saturn Corp. in Spring Hill.
PK USA looked at seven or eight Tennessee communities before deciding on Gallatin. The company was impressed by the efforts of local officials and the quality of life the city offers, PK USA Manufacturing Vice President Earl Miller said. Gallatin is similar to the company's Indiana headquarters in population and proximity to a major city, he noted.
Copyright 2018 PKUSA Inc.