Industry on the move in Bradley County

Industry on the move in Bradley County

July 22nd, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Frank Hancock, left, and Joe Cottrell install electrical conduit as construction continues on Whirlpool's 1 million-square-foot manufacturing plant off Benton Pike in Cleveland, Tenn.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn.-Olin Chlor Alkali launches construction of its $160 million facility in Bradley County today in an 11 a.m. ceremony at the Hiwassee River.

Work is progressing on Whirlpool Corp.'s new Cleveland plant, which remains on schedule to begin operation early in 2012.

And Monday, Wacker Chemical starts the first day of training at Chattanooga State Community College for key employees at its new plant near Cleveland.

"It's an exciting time and what you want to see with your existing industrial base: adapting and including new technology," Doug Berry, vice president for economic development at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday.

Recent hot, humid weather is not stifling the work to get Whirlpool ready.

"We talked to Whirlpool team members last week, and they are on track to start installing some equipment towards the end of August, with production hopefully beginning sometime during the first quarter of 2012," Berry said.

Like Whirlpool, Olin's project represents saving local jobs as much as creating new ones.

Olin has been in Bradley County since 1962 and has about 280 employees. Olin's new membrane cell manufacturing facilities "represent the continuation of a long-term commitment to Charleston and a strong working relationship with the state of Tennessee," company spokeswoman Elaine Patterson said.

The facilities will produce chlorine, caustic soda, potassium hydroxide and related chemical products.

Arch Chemical, which shares the same industrial site as Olin at the Hiwassee River, has more than 260 employees. Arch recently announced its own $30 million upgrade for energy efficiency. Arch, based in Norwalk, Conn., is being acquired by the Swiss-owned Lonza Group, according to a news release.

Meanwhile, Amazon remains on target at both its Hamilton and Bradley County distribution centers to be operational by late September, Berry said.