Chattanooga gains new company headquarters as Micronics shifts from New Hampshire

Staff photo by Mike Pare / Micronics, which makes industrial filters in Chattanooga, is moving its home office from New Hampshire to the former Alstom site on Riverfront Parkway.
Staff photo by Mike Pare / Micronics, which makes industrial filters in Chattanooga, is moving its home office from New Hampshire to the former Alstom site on Riverfront Parkway.

A manufacturer that has key operations in Chattanooga is shifting its headquarters to the Scenic City, citing cost of living, the talent pool and a location that is "on the rise."

Micronics Engineered Filtration Group, which makes industrial filters for the steel, mining and pharmaceutical sectors, is moving its home office from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to the former Alstom site off Riverfront Parkway.

"We felt Chattanooga had the most to offer," said Micronics Chief Executive Chris Cummins.

The new headquarters will add about 20 jobs to the manufacturing workforce that's at the old Alstom site at 1201 Riverfront Parkway, he said. The addition will push the company's headcount to about 130 employees in the city, Cummins said.

The relocation of the headquarters will take place around September, he said. The executive staff will move into a portion of the 56,000 square feet that Micronics is leasing at the sprawling ex-Alstom site which is now dubbed The Bend.

Jimmy White, the Chattanooga real estate developer who purchased the former Alstom factory site along with hotel owner Hiren Desai for $30 million in 2018, said earlier this year they're trying to remake the 112-acre tract along the Tennessee River near downtown's core into a mixed-use destination.

White said the site's redevelopment could bring $2 billion to $3 billion in investments, add over $11 million in tax revenue annually for Chattanooga and Hamilton County and spur more than 5,000 jobs.

After a lengthy planning effort, White's Urban Story Ventures revealed possibilities for the tract including manufacturing, offices, townhomes, workforce housing, a canal, a 10,000-square-foot food hall and music venue, a brewpub, child care center and more.

Cummins said that while 2020 has been challenging due to the coronavirus, revenues for the business are still up 10% with annual sales of nearly $100 million.

He said that servicing the mining industry is robust these days with the soaring prices of metals such as silver and copper.

"Our products help in the manufacture of those products," Cummins said.

He said Micronics also sells globally and its Asian sales are strong.

Cummins said he likes the The Bend site, where Micronics moved last year from a Hixson location.

"They're doing so much good work there," he said, adding that some personnel have moved into new condominiums which are going up in the downtown area.

"Being on the river, we're lucky to be there," the company CEO said.

Micronics was founded by Barry Hibble several decades ago. Now owned by Los Angeles-based private equity firm Vance Street Capital, Micronics expanded into dry filtration and air pollution control products and services with the acquisition of Southern Filter Media, which had a Hixson facility.

A number of acquisitions over the past eight years has grown the group, which has operations not only in Chattanooga but in Chicago, New Hampshire, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Earlier this year, a Chattanooga development group won approval for a pair of medical office buildings for The Bend, which would be the first new structures raised on the huge tract.

David Hudson of Artech Design Group, who represented developers John Foy and Todd Phillips, said that the two buildings would be built in phases on the property starting this fall.

Also, White is leasing space for a planned eight-story, $50 million office building that would go up near an proposed extension of Main Street into the property.

White said the medical offices are slated to bring about 70 jobs to The Bend. Those would add to the 340 workers who are already on the property from Micronics and other companies, he said.

Contact Mike Pare at Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.