TAG Manufacturing expanding plant and adding 200 more jobs at Enterprise South

One of the first companies to land in Chattanooga's Enterprise South industrial park more than a decade ago is plowing new ground for a $15 million expansion and adding 200 jobs.

TAG Manufacturing, which makes attachments such as buckets for heavy construction equipment, will buy nearly 19 more acres at the industrial park and build a 200,000-square-foot facility, officials said Tuesday.

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TAG Manufacturing originally acquired 23.5 acres at Enterprise South industrial park in 2004. It joined nanofiber business eSpin as one of the first companies in the industrial park.

"TAG's expansion will help us keep up with production orders and new customers," said Gary Wilt, who owns the business with brother Terry. "We're excited to be creating family wage jobs for our fellow residents."

TAG currently employs about 300 workers and it will boost its headcount to 500 over five years.

Company spokesman Mike Carter said the business has been growing and it needs to gear up to better compete and stockpile certain implements it produces.

"It either has to gear up and compete or shrink down for certain customers. You either change or die," he said.

Wilt said earlier that a reason he took a gamble on Enterprise South and built a 100,000-square-foot plant in 2005 was similar to why VW decided to build in the former U.S. Army ammunition plant property - location.

"It was convenient," he said.

TAG later added a like-size addition and now it's nearly doubling the amount of property it owns at the industrial park to handle another facility.

The new land is across Discovery Drive from TAG's existing plant and it's buying the site from the city and Hamilton County for about $40,000 an acre, Carter said.

He said plans are to duplicate TAG's business in the new facility. Work should start this summer.

"It's driven by the market," said Carter, a local attorney who also serves as a state representative in the Tennessee Legislature.

Carter said the city and county aren't offering a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement to TAG. But the company is looking at state training money, he said.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said about $1.5 billion has been invested in the county since 2011. Much of that has been at Enterprise South industrial park where Volkswagen is spending $900 million, including $600 million locally, to make a new sport utility vehicle. VW suppliers Gestamp and Plastic Omnium alao have made major investments in new facilities in the industrial park.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said that when a company expands, it's not just offering more jobs and opportunities.

"Expanding companies are investing in the people of our community and illustrating that they believe in what we have here," he said.

Charles Wood, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of economic development, said competition among communities for jobs is fierce and the business group is "honored that long-standing manufacturers like TAG continue to choose Chattanooga."

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.