The property became available this month when Alo Tennessee Inc. officially closed its operations in the Telford industrial park. The Swedish-based company, which had occupied the former Bush Hog manufacturing/assembly plant since 2009, moved its operations to Greenville, South Carolina, earlier this year.
Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy said Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development officials are working with the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership to find a new tenant for the massive building, which sits on 45 acres.
“It’s climate-controlled,” Grandy said. “It’s a really a nice building. It’s the best large building available in Northeast Tennessee.”
The mayor said corporate officials with Alo, which notified the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development in June it would close operations in Washington County by Dec. 27, needed “a smaller footprint” for what had become a distribution operation. The company had reduced its payroll from 100 employees to fewer than 15 when it moved its operation out of state.
He said that while the county “doesn’t get the ultimate say” in who goes into the former Alo space, Grandy said he is working to see that it’s an employer who will bring the greatest number of high-paying jobs to the region as possible.
Grandy said the farm equipment company was leasing the facility from a subsidiary that is now working with state and local officials to market the 383,156-square-foot building. He said the facility is listed on the state’s website, and industrial “site locators are aware it’s available.”
State Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, said he has been told by Bob Rolfe, the state’s commissioner of economic development, that the building is one of the best of its size now available in Tennessee.
Crowe and Grandy said some former Alo workers may have already found employment at Ebm-pabst, which announced in May it would build a new plant in the industrial park as part of a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement. The German-based automotive fan and motor manufacturer has promised to bring 200 jobs and a $37 million investment to the region.
“We were blessed that Ebm-pabst landed here about the same time as Alo was winding down its operations,” Grandy said.
Bush Hog was the first tenant of the industrial park when it opened in 2002. Two Japanese companies — Koyo/JTEKT and Nakaetsu Machining Technologies — later joined it in 2006.