A Whitwell, Tenn., native who now runs a business in Virginia has plans to return home, start two companies and hire about 100 workers.
"It feels great to come back," said Dwight Bryant, owner of Innovated Machine & Tool Co., a metal fabrication business in Newport News, Va.
Bryant said he's finalizing plans to buy a 17-acre tract off Highway 28 in Whitwell where he'd put the two new businesses and invest about $7 million to $10 million.
One company, Innovated South, would be modeled after the Virginia venture, which he said employs more than 50 people fabricating metal for refrigerated cabinets for grocery stores and the electrical power distribution sector.
"This year, we'll spend about $2 million in new equipment trying to keep up with demand," Bryant said about the company started more than three decades ago.
Prologue, the second planned Whitwell business, involves the production of environmentally green fire logs and barbecue bricks, he said. Plans are to use locally collected leaves and other wood biomass to produce the fire logs, Bryant said. Much of that material now is disposed of in local landfills, he said.
Nancy Witte, Prologue's sales and marketing director, said the production equipment is on order from where it's made in England.
She said the other business, Innovated South, eventually would make that equipment as well.
Witte said the fabrication business could employ about 40 people to start. Prologue would hire at least 20 workers to begin, she said.
Bryant, 61, said he already has bought a home in Marion County and is finalizing the financing of the projects. He said he hopes to break ground within a few months.
The Whitwell High School graduate said he's working with local and state officials to bring the businesses about.
"It has been nothing but positive," he said.
Marion County Mayor John Graham said Bryant has talked with state economic development officials about assistance in helping with road connections and other infrastructure upgrades to his proposed factory.
"The final key is determining what grants are available through the state," he said. "That's the last key. He's ready to go. The sooner, the better."
Graham said Bryant is an old friend of Whitwell Mayor Steve Hudson, who made the first contact with the Virginia businessman.
"We're excited about it," Graham said. "In these economic times, these jobs are great."