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The manufacturing plant that houses Invista and Kordsa is seen Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn.
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The manufacturing plant that houses Invista and Kordsa is seen Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Invista plant site

* 1944: Dupont buys 500 acres of land near the then-new Chickamauga Dam

* 1946: Construction begins on five-story, 254,320-square-foot plant in Hixson

* 1948: Nylon production begins at plant with 900 initial employees

* 1970s: Employment swells in Chattanooga to more than 5,000 workers

* 2004: DuPont sells its textiles business, including Chattanooga plant, to Koch Industries division Invista. It leases space for a limited performance polymer operation to DuPont and a tire nylon operation to Kordsa.

* 2013: Invista makes one of biggest investments ever in Chattanooga plant to penetrate automotive parts market

* 2015: DuPont phases out the last of DuPont operations in Chattanooga

* 2016: Invista to end production of nylon 6,6 polymer in the plant

Nylon fiber maker Invista is slashing a key part of its Chattanooga plant production that's expected to eventually lead to "a significant" cut in its 300-person workforce, officials said Thursday.

The Koch Industries division that bought DuPont's Access Road plant in 2004 is stopping production of "nylon 6,6 polymer" in Chattanooga and shifting that work to two other facilities in South Carolina and Canada, according to Invista.

"We know this news is difficult, and the decision was very carefully considered," said Kevin Robles, senior vice president of Invista operations, in a statement. "Invista is making this announcement now to ensure that employees, contractors, site tenant companies and customers have as much time as possible to plan for the future."

Because the move is a multi-phase restructuring process, it's premature to know how many employees will be impacted and when, officials said.

The company anticipates an ongoing need for "a consistent workforce" into 2017. They'll assist with the transfer of production in addition to completing steps to safely secure the nylon 6,6 polymer assets not needed in the future, the company said.

Invista spokeswoman Jodie Stutzman said there are other products made by the company in Chattanooga, though the plans for those functions are "unclear."

Just three years ago, Invista made one of the biggest investments ever in the plant that spans more than six decades in the city to help the company penetrate the growing automotive parts market.

The nylon 6,6 polymer made at the Chattanooga factory is used in apparel and automotive air bags.

"It's a significant portion" of Chattanooga production, Stutzman said, adding that moving it will eventually create "significant job cuts."

The Invista decision also affects Kordsa Global, a company that's a tenant in the plant and itself employs about 200 people.

Mark Myers, Kordsa's manager of human resources and information technology in Chattanooga, said it buys utilities and a raw material from Invista for the nylon polymer it produces and it's negotiating with that company to remain in Chattanooga.

"We have every intention of being here," he said about Kordsa, whose product is used in making nylon fiber for tires.

Invista said that any of its employees affected by Thursday's announcement will receive 60-day notice prior to leaving and may be eligible for severance benefits.

In addition, Invista said it will try to place affected employees in other roles or opportunities at other company sites and with affiliate businesses. It also plans to work with the Tennessee Department Workforce to provide employment transition assistance, the company said.

"The employees at Chattanooga have worked diligently to provide reliable products that support our global business," Robles said.

But, he said, the infrastructure at Chattanooga is less competitive than other Invista North American regional polymer assets.

"Therefore, to better position the company for long-term success, we are consolidating our North American polymer assets to most efficiently meet our customers' preference for regional supply," Robles said.

DuPont late last year announced it was closing the last of its operations at the plant. About 40 workers, including 26 employees and 14 contractors, lost their jobs at the end of last year.

Just last month, GE Power said it's closing its Chattanooga manufacturing sites and laying off most of its workforce, cutting 235 jobs.

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

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