La-Z-Boy seeks help to expand Dayton, Tenn., plant

DAYTON, Tenn. -- La-Z-Boy Tennessee expects to add 40 jobs at its Dayton operation if the Rhea County Commission will purchase a piece of property and lease it to the company, commissioners were told this week.

County Executive George Thacker said he had been working with La-Z-Boy officials and representatives of the state and the Tennessee Valley Authority to arrange the deal, which will provide a site for a company-owned trucking operation.

"La-Z-Boy has created 300 jobs this year, and we will end up with another 80 jobs and $4 million in payroll" if the transaction is approved, Thacker said.

La-Z-Boy General Manager Bimbo McCawley said 40 jobs already have been filled, and another 40 to 50 are possible, with the jobs paying $50,000 to $55,000 per year.

Commission Chairman Jim Reed questioned the projection.

"I can't guarantee that," McCawley replied. "But if things continue with the economy and the growth La-Z-Boy is having, it should happen."

He added that "other opportunities are coming down the road in the La-Z-Boy family. At some site, we will consolidate a lot of things for La-Z-Boy. I think this sends a strong signal" that Rhea County will work with the company.

Details of the transaction would need to be negotiated, Thacker and McCawley said. But the county executive said TVA has agreed to arrange financing for the $120,000 purchase at about 3 percent interest.

Thacker told commissioners that "this is the first time since I have been in office that the county has brought in a substantial number of jobs."

Commissioners agreed to put the proposal on the agenda for their meeting Tuesday.