915 Riverview Drive
Two manufacturers are considering vacant industrial facilities in Washington County, and could soon bring more than 200 jobs and millions of dollars of new tax revenue to the local economy.
Wash-ington County Economic Develop-ment Commission CEO Mitch Miller revealed Thursday that companies have made offers on the former Bosch brake component production plant and the former Douglas Dynamics campus, and could close on them in the next year.
“It’s a good sign,” Miller said. “You’re looking at 200-plus jobs, and close to about $10 to $11 million in investments.”
Miller said neither sale is a done deal, but said the purchase of the Douglas Dynamics snow plow facility was the closer of the two. It could be occupied as early as February by a company Miller declined to name.
Built in 1975 at 915 Riverview Drive, near Watauga on Johnson City’s northeast side, the 192,000-square-foot commercial building was home to the Milwaukee-based plow company until 2010, when Douglas Dynamics moved production to its other plants in the north, cutting 100 high-value jobs from the local economy.
Miller said in the three years since it was vacated, the building fell into disrepair, especially in part of the 22,000 square feet of office space.
He said the business eyeing the Douglas plant is expected to invest $5 to $8 million in the site, bring 80 new manufacturing jobs and will connect to suppliers and producers in multiple states.
The new business at the larger Bosch plant would have a greater impact on the local job market if occupied by the prospective buyer, Miller said, and could bring 150 manufacturing positions and an initial $3 million investment.
If the sale proceeds, the company could move into the 300,000-square-foot facility at 506 Twin Oaks Drive by June, he said.
The former Bosch plant is older than Douglas Dynamics, built in 1961, but Miller said it was better maintained in the three years since its closure, with a security guard posted there to protect it.
“That expense alone is tough, but it kept the building in good condition and that’s a pretty big selling point,” Miller said.
When Bosch closed its doors in July 2010, 140 union represented workers were laid off.
Miller said the Bosch plant has had several offers on it in the last few years, but none have yet come to fruition.
Both sites are being brokered by the Hart Corp., an Atlanta real estate company.
Miller said either new company would trigger the state-offered incentives for creating at least 25 jobs, and would be entitled to tax abatement, training dollars and breaks on power rates.
If both sales are completed, the new jobs would provide a much-needed shot in the arm to manufacturing in Washington County.
The problem then would be finding another location to market for industrial producers, Miller said.
“If these two are filled, we’ll only have one large facility that we can market to potential businesses, and the pressing issue will be doing something with the Washington County Industrial Park and looking at other potential land for industrial development,” he said. “It’s a problem, but it’s a good problem to have.”