Staff photo by Ben Benton / Gov. Bill Lee talks about a pre-apprenticeship program launched through a partnership between Chattanooga State Community College, Marion County Schools, and Valmont Industries on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019.

This story was updated Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, at 7:51 p.m. with more information.

Valmont Industries will invest $15 million to $20 million to expand its 20-year-old plant in Jasper, Tennessee and add another 65 jobs.

Diane Larkin, executive vice president of global operations for Valmont, said the plant addition is needed "to help serve continued, strong demand for resilient infrastructure across the country.

"Governments' investments across transportation markets and utilities' investments in grid hardening and renewable energy sources are driving increased demand for our products and solutions," she said.

Renee L. Campbell, vice president of communications for Valmont, said work will begin on the expansion project "any day as soon as the weather is cooperative and the addition should be completed by this summer.

"Initial hiring is expected to begin in summer 2021 and extend over the next five years," Campbell said.

Valmont Industries' Jasper location is part of the company's North American infrastructure operations, which supplies steel poles and structures to utility and transportation markets nationwide. Valmont's existing 100,000-square-foot facility in Marion County will be expanded by more than 30% and the company plans to convert an adjoining 11-acre lot into a new laydown yard to store equipment and materials.

"We're proud to have a global company like Valmont Industries invest in our rural communities," Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said in an announcement Monday night.

Established in 1946, Valmont Industries is a global leader of engineered products and services for infrastructure and water-conserving irrigation equipment and technology solutions for agriculture. The Omaha-based company makes linear irrigation equipment, windmill support structures, lighting and traffic poles and steel utility poles at facilities in 22 countries around the globe.

"Valmont Industries has manufacturing facilities around the globe, and by choosing to expand in Marion County, it shows that Tennessee has the skilled workforce and business-friendly environment to support the company's growth," said Bob Rolfe, Tennessee's commissioner for Economic and Community Development.

To help entice Valmont to expand, Marion County commissioners have approved a PILOT (payment in lieu-of-taxes) agreement to exempt all but school taxes on the property tax value of the expansion for one year and then gradually increase property tax payments by 10% a year over the next decade.

Valmont's expansion follows the move by Mueller Water Products last year to reopen the former Westrock digital printing plant in nearby Kimball and add up to 325 jobs.

Marion County Mayor David Jackson said the Valmont and Mueller expansions — and the apprenticeship programs for such facilities — are helping more local workers gain family-wage jobs.

"Valmont is a great company that has done a lot for our community and we're excited about this expansion," he said. "We're thrilled that they chose us for this expansion and we hope it is the first of many more."