Westinghouse Electric could add another 100 employees at its new $21 million Chattanooga facility depending on business, an official for the company's nuclear services division said Thursday.
Westinghouse unveiled its boiling water reactor training center and welding institute at Centre South Riverport. The 65,000-square-foot facility is aimed at training employees and customers on the safe maintenance and refueling of the reactors in nuclear power plants.
Nick Liparulo, Westinghouse's senior vice president of nuclear services, said the company is up to about 130 people in the city and could add another 100 workers within a year or so if business opportunities come through.
When Westinghouse first announced its Chattanooga expansion in March 2008, it had about 75 workers.
Mr. Liparulo said the company, a division of Toshiba Group, already has orders for 10 new nuclear power units. Six are in the United States and four in China, he said.
Mr. Liparulo cited the city's available work force as a reason why Chattanooga was picked by the company for the expansion.
Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey called the facility "a big win."
Mr. Ramsey said potential workers need to be trainable.
"If you're not educated, you're going to miss the boat," he said.
According to Westinghouse, its service technicians can earn $60,000 a year or more.
David Howell, Westinghouse's vice president of field services, said company officials believe nuclear power is necessary for the energy strategy for the United States and world.
"Safe, clean, reliable nuclear power is essential for the future and we are going to be a part of it," he said.
The welding institute has the capacity to certify 288 students a year to work in nuclear and non-nuclear plants.
The company has had a facility off Riverfront Parkway near the Alstom plant. It bought the former Metals USA building at the riverport and undertook a large-scale upgrade and addition.
The building is equipped with a full-scale, 85-foot-deep reactor and pool mockup serviced by a refueling bridge and overhead cranes. Westinghouse officials noted that digging such a deep hole into the ground next to the Tennessee River "was not an easy task."