Rutherford County Rings Up Economic Successes
Rutherford County, TN has benefited from several moves by major companies who wish to establish operations in the county.
Rutherford County is in the midst of some of the most active economic investment anywhere, with a growing roster of companies pumping in millions of dollars to establish operations in the area and creating hundreds of jobs. In 2014, Japanese automotive parts maker M-TEK announced it was investing an estimated $13.4 million to establish its North American headquarters in Murfreesboro, where it plans to create 250 jobs. Enovate Medical also invested $13 million to move its headquarters to Murfreesboro, bringing 410 jobs to the community, and Federal Mogul launched a $6.2 million expansion of its aftermarket distribution center in Smyrna, creating 135 new jobs.
Strategic Advantages, Quality of Life Appeal
These firms are drawn to Rutherford County by a mix of business and livability advantages, including a low cost of living, a dedicated workforce, a strategic central location, a business-friendly environment and an exceptional quality of life. M-TEK makes a wide range of automotive parts for several North American assembly plants and has operated in Tennessee for 20 years. Construction of its 63,800-square-foot, two-level building is expected to be complete in August 2016. Enovate Medical, a leading provider of mobile and wall-mounted clinical workstations for health-care organizations, is one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. The firm had the opportunity to select any one of a large number of sites for its headquarters, but locating in Rutherford County just made sense, says Nick Mendez, president and chief executive officer. “County and city officials were extremely accommodating in helping us make this decision,” says Mendez, who also cited the talented workforce and quality of life in Rutherford County, combined with the innovative health-care community of the Nashville area, as major factors in the company’s decision. Rutherford County already has an impressive array of well-known corporations operating in the area, including Nissan North America, Ingram Content Group, Verizon Wireless, Amazon, Bridgestone Americas, Schwan Cosmetics USA and Vi-Jon. “I think these companies have found that we have affordable communities and a very business-friendly environment,” says Brian Hercules, vice president of economic development for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce. “We continue to draw interest from across the country, and the outlook for the future is strong.”
Engine for Growth
Smyrna is home to Nissan’s assembly plant, one of the largest and most productive auto plants in North America. The plant employs more than 7,000 workers who build the Altima, Maxima, LEAF, Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60. “When Nissan made the decision to begin operations in Tennessee over 30 years ago, the company chose the state because of its world-class workforce, strong investment in its education system and commitment to seeing businesses thrive in the state,” says Randy Knight, vice president of manufacturing at Nissan’s Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant. Rutherford County officials are also looking ahead to the employment needs of the future through innovative workforce development and training initiatives.
“We are working to develop programs that fill the skill gaps needed to satisfy the requirements of existing employers and those considering locating in Rutherford County,” says Beth Duffield, vice president of workforce development for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber operates grassroots workforce programs that aim to get students interested in local industries, particularly those that offer technically-oriented careers. On National Manufacturing Day in 2014, area manufacturers hosted more than 250 middle and high school students on field trips of their facilities. Another Chamber program, ACE (Afterschool Career Exploration), gives students in grades four through six a firsthand look at career options in advanced manufacturing- and technology-related careers.
ACE includes field trips to various businesses and organizations to help students explore a career path. To address immediate needs, the Chamber has recently developed the Warrior Workforce Initiative, which seeks to help employers recruit from the large pool of locally based servicemen and women exiting the military. “Military veterans possess many of the skills and attributes valued by private sector employers,” says Duffield, who explained that veterans often have the leadership and technical skills that can translate well into advanced manufacturing, logistics and warehousing, and IT fields. As part of filling immediate employment needs, the Chamber is also working to foster close alignment between Rutherford County employers and higher education partners, including Middle Tennessee State University, Motlow Community College and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Murfreesboro. Custom-made programs, like the state-sponsored Industrial Readiness Training initiative, are funneling students directly into waiting jobs, and businesses throughout the county are also opening their doors to students for internships. Read about investments and new industries in Rutherford County, TN.