published Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Gearing up: Grants fund training for more than 800 Nissan production, administration jobs

Suzanne Bryson assembles Nissan Altima and Frontier 4-cylinder engines at the Decherd, Tenn., plant.
Suzanne Bryson assembles Nissan Altima and Frontier 4-cylinder engines at the Decherd, Tenn., plant.
Photo by Dan Henry.

The Nissan plant in Decherd, Tenn., and an associated company, Yates Services, are in line for about $3.8 million in state FastTrack Job Training Assistance grants to fund training for about 850 new jobs at the facility in Franklin County.

Nissan, which experienced 10 percent growth in sales in 2012, also has had "significant" growth at the engine assembly plant in Decherd, originally opened in 1997, which builds four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines, company officials said.

"Some of those [new] jobs have already been hired and others will be hired in the future, including positions relative to our joint venture with Daimler," Nissan North America spokesman Justin Saia said Friday.

Nissan's Decherd plant is being expanded to produce engines for Mercedes-Benz cars that will be built in Vance, Ala., starting in 2014 and for Infiniti models. Daimler and Renault-Nissan teamed up in 2010.

Nissan will use $1.97 million to fund training for 155 production and 103 administrative posts, and Yates will use $1.79 million for 598 new production positions, according to state Economic and Community Development officials and records. The grants went before the Tennessee State Funding Board in December for approval, state ECD spokeswoman Laura Elkins said this week.

Saia said training funds will support three Nissan projects at the Decherd plant. The first project is the "E-motor" for the all-electric Nissan Leaf being built in Smyrna, the second is expansion of Nissan's casting plant and the third is production of four-cylinder engines for Daimler and Infiniti.

Saia said construction of the facility related to Daimler engine production is ongoing.

Nissan in Decherd has about 1,400 employees now and had added about 600 since mid-2011, he said. The new jobs will be filled with both existing and new employees, he said.

Franklin County Mayor Richard Stewart said he's glad to see the funding issued to get the job training under way for Nissan and Yates.

"We're excited," Stewart said. "Nissan has been a great match for our community and our surrounding communities. We want to congratulate and thank them and thank the people with the state."

The county mayor said he's looking forward to seeing full-scale production begin.

"I understand they're on target," he said.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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