Business Briefcase: Airlines bankruptcy hits local airport

Business Briefcase: Airlines bankruptcy hits local airport

December 18th, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Diary

Airlines bankruptcy hits local airport

American Airlines' bankruptcy has hit Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport's wallet.

When American filed for bankruptcy last month, the carrier owed the airport $25,000 in fees, according to an official. Now the airport will be one of many nationally standing in line for payment after the company's bankruptcy is settled.

"Since we have already been through this Chapter 11 cycle with Delta, Northwest and US Airways, we anticipate that we will settle with the airline for a portion of their debt within the next 12 months," said airport spokeswoman Christina Siebold.

The airline's subsidiary, American Eagle, flies round trips between Chattanooga and Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago.

Suppliers sought for new industries

After landing two billion-dollar business investments in the past three years, economic recruiters in Southeast Tennessee want to focus on landing suppliers to those major manufacturers.

A new regional strategic plan developed for the 10-county Southeast Tennessee "jobs base camp" suggests that the best opportunities for new recruitment may come from suppliers to the $1 billion Volkswagen auto assembly plant in Chattanooga; the $1.2 billion Wacker polysilicon plant near Charleston, Tenn.; and the $280 million expansion by Alstom's power division in Chattanooga.

The plan also suggests trying to recruit a data center to the region, capitalizing on Chattanooga's fast Internet service, and promoting more homegrown agricultural products.

"For the remainder of 2011 and 2012, the region's recruitment efforts will focus on identifying and building relationships with the suppliers of these major companies," the 15-page regional strategic plan concluded. "Attention is also being given to rural and urban data center possibilities and to the development of a structured 'grow local' initiative that will take advantage of Southeast Tennessee's agricultural base."

Plans for each of nine regions across Tennessee were released Friday as part of Gov. Bill Haslam's more localized approach to business recruitment.

"Jobs4TN was designed to take a more regional approach to job creation so we can better understand and serve the needs of each region," said Bill Hagerty, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Offices pending for Kids on Block

The vacant Holtzclaw Avenue property across from the Army National Guard Armory could become office space for a local charity.

The property was approved for rezoning last week by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency. The rezoning will allow construction of a two-story office building for childhood education charity Kids on the Block.

Kids on the Block workers use puppetry to educate children about social, health and safety concerns.

But the puppets are still looking for a new home and may move into an existing building rather than build on the Holtzclaw site, according to Mitchel Everhart, who oversaw the rezoning.

"We're still in the early stages," he said.

Stevenson to make wood for barrels

The company that produces Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey broke ground last week in Stevenson, Ala., for a plant that will produce the wood used in its barrels.

The mill operated by Brown-Forman Cooperage will produce white oak stave and heading material that will be used to produce whiskey barrels. About 30 people will work at the mill.

Brown-Forman Cooperage is a subsidiary of Brown-Forman Corp., which produces Jack Daniel's.

It picked the Alabama location because of its plentiful supply of oak trees.

Auto parts maker expands plant

Nakatetsu Machining Technologies, which makes tapered roller bearings for the automotive industry, has begun a $6.3 million expansion of its Telford, Tenn., plant to add two more production lines.

The move will create 35 new manufacturing jobs, company officials said.

"Since locating our facility in Washington County, Nakatetsu has enjoyed great success," said Katsumi Okita, president of the Japanese auto parts manufacturer.

"This success has allowed us to continue to grow and expand our production lines," Okita said.

Since opening in 2007, Nakatetsu has undergone two expansions, resulting in a 100,000 square foot facility that currently employs 60.