North Chattanooga resident and Global Green Lighting CEO Don Lepard is expanding his Soddy-Daisy manufacturing facility following the recent approval of a Community Development Block Grant awarded by the federal government as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Applied for through the city of Soddy-Daisy eight months ago, the $532,000 rural development grant will purchase new assembly and service mount equipment scheduled to arrive at the facility in Soddy-Daisy Industrial Park within six to eight weeks, said Lepard.
GGL recently entered into a contract with the city of Chattanooga to produce $6 million worth of remote-controlled LED lighting for the city, which will be assembled in Soddy-Daisy. Lights previously produced by GGL installed on Frazier Avenue and the Walnut Street Bridge were also manufactured at the Soddy-Daisy facility, said Lepard.
In addition to expanding the manufacturing operation in Soddy-Daisy, the company is also establishing a corporate headquarters in Chattanooga on Riverfront Parkway.
Over the next 24 months, Lepard said he will be adding 250 jobs between the Soddy-Daisy and Chattanooga facilities.
"Right now we're bringing in key staff," said Lepard of the sales, marketing, accounting, research, development and engineering staff to be housed in the Chattanooga facility. He said hiring will begin in June for between 30 and 60 positions at the Soddy-Daisy plant, most of which do not require a college education.
"It's a high-tech product, but it's simple to put together," said Lepard.
The facility currently employs 20, he said. The positions to be added cover a wide range of positions including assembly line production, quality inspection and logistics personnel.
"If I wanted to do this and make a lot of money, I would do that in China," said Lepard of the country where he previously outsourced the company's labor. "My No. 1 goal as a company is we take care of families."
Once Chattanooga deploys its new LED lights in downtown's major arteries as well as on Hixson Pike, components of the old lighting will be separated and recycled at the Soddy-Daisy plant. Lepard said the company will not profit from the sale of the recycled materials such as copper.
"We will use the money [from the sale of the components] to pay the cost of labor to recycle the material," said Lepard.