Belgium firm to build bus factory in Morristown, Tenn., add 640 jobs

Belgium firm to build bus factory in Morristown, Tenn., add 640 jobs

April 12th, 2018 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Contributed photo of Van Hool Astromega TD927 coach for the Oxford Tube.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

This story was updated April 12, 2018, at 11:19 p.m.

A Belgian company will establish its first U.S. manufacturing operation in Morristown, Tenn., and create nearly 640 jobs over the next five years.

Van Hool, a family-owned Belgian manufacturer of buses, coaches and industrial vehicles, announced plans today to build a 500,000-square-foot facility in Morristown's East Tennessee Progress Center, one of the Select Tennessee's certified industrial sites.

Van Hool CEO Filip Van Hool said the plant in Tennessee is part of a global expansion for Van Hool, which will make public transit and commuter vehicles for U.S. transit agencies at the new Morristown facility.

"The investment of more than $47 million reaffirms the more than 30-year presence of Van Hool in the U.S. market," Van Hool said in an announcement of the new plant today. "Since 1987, we have supplied more than 10,000 vehicles in North America. Today, we're really looking forward to building a state-of the-art bus factory in Morristown to supply the entire North American market with high quality buses and commuter coaches for transit agencies from 2020 onwards."

Bob Role, commissioner for economic and community development in Tennessee, said the 71-year-old, family-owned business from Belgium is the latest among more than $12.5 billion of foreign direct investment made in Tennessee — one of the leading states in America for foreign factory investments. Such foreign based companies have added more than 51,500 jobs in Tennessee over the the past seven years, Rolfe said.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam welcomed the new investment to Hamblen County.

"Tennessee is a leading destination for foreign direct investment and because of global businesses like Van Hool, Tennessee will lead the nation in high quality jobs opportunities," Haslam said in a statement.

.Van Hool designs and manufactures approximately 3,000 commercial vehicles and 1,400 buses and coaches annually. Van Hool's commercial vehicle department produces a comprehensive range of semitrailers, road tankers, tank and bulk containers, and container chassis.

Van Hool operates production facilities in Koningshooikt, Belgium, where it is headquartered, and Skopje, Macedonia. The company employs approximately 4,450 employees worldwide.