More manufacturing jobs coming to McMinn Co. - WSMV Channel 4

More manufacturing jobs coming to McMinn Co.

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ATHENS, TN (WRCB) -

More than a hundred new jobs are coming to McMinn County. The county's largest employer, DENSO Manufacturing, announced Tuesday its investing $55 million to expand the auto supplier and add to its workforce in Athens.

DENSO Manufacturing Athens Tennessee already employs one thousand people. It makes automobile parts from spark plugs to oxygen sensors, that go to carmakers around the world. Now it's adding onto its plant, in order to produce the latest generation of gasoline injectors for cars.

"It's interesting to see a lot of the people I grew up with actually coming to work here and actually being able to provide for their families by working here," Assistant General Manager Donovan Pierce said.

DENSO is still hiring for the auto supplier's expansion announced last year, and now around 130 more people will put to work in this second phase.

"Everything from production associates to maintenance associates, to engineers to leadership positions as well, so it will run the whole gamut," General Manager Hugh Cantrell said.

It's all to make parts called "gasoline direct injection injectors." The technology is supposed to give better gas mileage and cut down on pollution.  

"Passenger cars, but anything from trucks to SUVs to vans and sedans could use this particular technology," Fuel Injection Manufacturing Division General Manager Brian Nolen said.

McMinn County Mayor John Gentry says the little device has the potential to bring big growth to the area that's still emerging from the recession.

"When you get that type of skilled employee that helps, I think, us attract other types of industry. If we can support the auto industry, we can also support the work still demand for other industries," McMinn County Mayor John Gentry said.

McMinn County lost several hundred manufacturing jobs during the economic downturn a few years ago.

"I'm extremely excited for 130 families to have a new opportunity to improve their life. I'm probably more excited for them," Mayor Gentry said.

And he says that means a higher quality of life for residents.

"I love the collateral affect of a manufacturing job because that trickles down to retail, it trickles into home ownership, and it just keeps on having a positive ripple effect throughout McMinn County. It affects the schools. It affects everything," Mayor Gentry said.

Another company, HP Pelzer Automotive Systems, has also been building a plant in McMinn County to add 200 manufacturing jobs.

Mayor Gentry says all of these additions, aid in the birth of a new manufacturing and business innovation training program the county hopes to start progress on this spring, by showing there is a demand for these type of high skilled jobs there.

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