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Industrial manufacturing going through change

W. Kenneth Medley II • Mar 16, 2019 at 8:33 PM

Industrial manufacturing is still a major player in the local economy.

Manufacturing companies in Johnson City, Tennessee, alone employ nearly 5,000 people, according to statistics from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Expanding to the Tri-Cities area, as a whole and one will see great influx. There are new projects underway and grants are in review for more.

The Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership recently assisted A.Y. McDonald Manufacturing Co. apply for state incentives to expand, as reported by the Johnson City Press. The project is expected create 33 jobs.

“They were considering opportunities to expand,” Mitch Miller, NETREP CEO, “so it was a way for us to help them on state incentives (and) really look at ways to help them add additional square footage. The state really came in big and provided some great incentives to make that project a reality.”

One incentive is Opportunity Zones, according to John Cannon, owner of multiple businesses. Cannon explains that there are special tax incentives for companies within these zones. Most of Johnson City is within in one of these zones as in large portions of Unicio County.

Data from First Tennessee Development District shows over $9 million in new Industrial Programs during fiscal year 2017-2018. With the “opportunity zones” and the assistance of local, state and federal governments that number could rise for the next year.

One continual problem that employers are faced with in the region is qualified talent, according to labor statistics. This means educated, physically qualified and able to pass a drug screening. Unemployment rates have gone down for the region as a whole but manufacturing jobs still to not make the top seven-list of employers.

There are still many items manufactured in the region. Borla Performance Industries is still operating. Although, Cantech is still set to close their doors in the first half of this year, as reported by the Johnson City Press. There are new manufacturing companies making way in the region.

Flow MedTech has received full funding and is producing medical devices in Johnson City, according to David Nelson, a local business owner and entrepreneur. There has been consistent growth in gross domestic product in Johnson City, according to archived data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Research Division, which covers Tennessee.

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