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Staff photo by Ben Benton / Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Wednesday joined with Mueller Water Products officials and state and local officials in Marion County to announce a $41 million investment in a 233,000-square-foot existing facility in Kimball, Tenn., that will bring 325 jobs over the next five years.

NASHVILLE — A $5 million Tennessee business incentive to aid Mueller Water Products' planned $41 million new operation in Marion County, Tennessee, has won easy approval from a state panel, with the company agreeing to pay an average wage of $24.29 an hour for an expected 325 new jobs.

State Funding Board members approved the incentive Tuesday for Mueller, a leading manufacturer and marketer of products and services used in the transmission, distribution and measurement of water across North America.

The $5 million incentive was the largest among Tennessee FastTrack economic incentives approved by the State Funding Board. The incentives totaled $11.42 million and involved four separate companies across the state.

(Read more: Mueller Water Products announces new Kimball, Tennessee, facility that will bring 325 jobs over five years)

"We got some great projects, we really do," Comptroller Justin Wilson, the funding board's chairman, told state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bobby Rolfe after the commissioner presented the Mueller project. "This is great."

Mueller, which has some of its historical roots in Chattanooga, announced earlier in November that the company would invest $41 million in a 233,000-square-foot existing facility in Kimball that will bring 325 new jobs over the next five years.

While Gov. Bill Lee and Rolfe joined company officials in Kimball earlier this month to announce the move, details, including the size of the state's taxpayer-funded incentive package and Mueller's agreeing to pay an average wage of $24.29 an hour, weren't revealed until it was presented to the funding board, which has final say-so over economic incentive packages.

The money will be used in offsetting Mueller's costs for acquiring and retrofitting the building formerly owned by WestRock, an Atlanta-based pulp and paper product company formed by the 2015 merger of MeadWestvaco and RockTenn. It's located in an industrial area between Jasper and Kimball. WestRock closed its operations there in May after 24 years.

Because the state can't directly funnel the money to companies themselves, the money intended to benefit Mueller will go to the Marion County Industrial & Environmental Development Board.

Rolfe told state officials the building will be purchased, and necessary improvements include retrofitting the facility for its new purpose.

According to details on the State Funding Board's required FastTrack "checklist" for companies, Mueller says it is exporting more than half of its products or services outside Tennessee. The company has also made a commitment for the "creation or retention of private sector jobs and employment."

 

Other FastTrack grants approved by the State Funding Board are:

* Mitsubishi Motors North America: The Japanese auto manufacturer is getting $3.31 million to relocate its U.S. headquarters to Franklin from Cypress, California, in a move expected to bring some 200 jobs to the state.

* AutoZone: The Memphis-based auto parts retailer is getting $2.275 million which it "intends, in good faith, to create 130 jobs" and make a $191.3 million capital investment.

* McKesson Corp.: The company, which distributes pharmaceuticals and provides health information technology, medical supplies and care is getting $830,000 in state money to benefit its planned $18.5 million investment over the next five years. The company says it will create 83 new jobs.

Besides Comptroller Wilson, other Funding Board members include the governor, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, state Treasurer David Lillard and Finance Commissioner Stuart McWhorter.

While governors rarely attend the meetings, the finance commissioner represents the administration's interests.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.

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