Eastman Chemical Celebrates Groundbreaking In Kingsport

Friday, November 01, 2013

Eastman Chemical Company will be transformed into a 21st century company with construction of a new corporate headquarters in Kingsport, Chairman and CEO Jim Rogers said Tuesday.

The company broke ground on the 300,000-square-foot facility and plans to invest $1.6 billion in a larger, multi-year expansion. Dozens of political leaders, including Governor Bill Haslam, and a number of community officials were on hand for the ceremony.

The corporate headquarters will be in the Eastman baseball field, which is across the street from the current corporate headquarters. The buildings will be connected with a walkway over Wilcox Drive.

Mr. Rogers said Eastman has come a long way since it separated from Kodak.

“It’s been a journey,” he said. “It’s tough to go from a manufacturing arm of a large monopoly to be an independent company that has to have its own external relationships. There was a lot of learning that had to go on. The culture had to continue to evolve to stay competitive, and you can see the example of Kodak of what happens when you don’t.”

Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

The state pushed hard to keep the expansion and the corporate headquarters in Northeast Tennessee. The company looked at expanding other facilities around the world, but the state provided millions of dollars in incentives, including a $20 million FastTrack grant and $10 million in funding for the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing, which trains Eastman employees.

The company has promised to create 300 jobs in Tennessee.

“I think this is the biggest investment per job in the history of Tennessee to make sure Eastman stays,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said.

Governor Haslam said the education investment in the project is crucial. He is pushing to increase vocational training across the state and the center works with industry and Northeast State Community College to train skilled manufacturing workers.

The governor said he knows the investment in the expansion is a lot of money, but 7,000 jobs in Tennessee can be traced back to the company.

“If jobs are going to be created, companies like Eastman are going to have to stick their neck out and put capital at risk,” he said.

Virginia Delegate Israel O’Quinn said the investment Tennessee made is regional and will benefit his state’s residents as well.

“There are people that drive as far as two hours to come work here,” Mr. O’Quinn said. “For us in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, state lines are fairly invisible. You have people in Southwest Virginia who drive to Eastman for work, and you have people in East Tennessee who drive to Southwest Virginia for work.”

Construction is expected to be completed in 2015. The building will house 850 Eastman employees.

The company also plans to expand the manufacturing facility over the next several years.

Mr. Rogers said the jobs created will be in manufacturing, engineering, supply chain, human resources and finance.


Attorneys Batts And Taylor Elected To Lead State Drug Court Association

The Tennessee Association of Drug Court Professionals has elected attorneys Kevin Batts and Richard Taylor to leadership positions in the statewide group. Mr. Batts will serve as president and Mr. Taylor will serve as vice president of the association in 2015. Mr. Batts is director of the Drug Court in the 23rd Judicial District, serving five counties of Middle Tennessee. He ... (click for more)

Karen Tindell And Kelly Still Join Southern Community Bank

Robert Stahl, Chattanooga city president of Southern Community Bank, announced Karen Tindell and Kelly Still have joined the Chattanooga branch. “Karen joins the staff as assistant vice president and Kelly joins the staff as a commercial lender,” said Mr. Stahl.  “Together Karen and Kelly collectively have over 50 years’ experience in the financial industry with regional ... (click for more)

2 Suspects Sought In Armed Robbery At Highway 153 Long John Silver's

Police are searching for two suspects in an armed robbery that happened Friday morning. At approximately  8:10  a.m. the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 5317 Highway 153 for a robbery at the Long John Silver's.  Officers discovered that two black men, wearing hoodies and masks, entered the Long John Silver's and forced the assistant manager ... (click for more)

Pair Charged With Beating Man With Stick, Taking His Wallet

Two men are charged with beating a man with a large stick while he slept on the steps of a downtown church, then taking his wallet. Jerry Quincy Allen, 45, and James Leo Boas, 40, both of 727 E. 11th St., are charged with aggravated robbery. In the incident on Wednesday, Bradley Casehart said he and a friend were asleep at Tompkin Chapel Church on Palmetto Street. He ... (click for more)

Please Don't Close The Piccadilly Cafeteria At Hamilton Place - And Response

Oh, no. The Piccadilly Cafeteria at Hamilton Place is closing.  Its last day is Christmas Eve.  I will miss the great food they have there but most of all I will miss their servers, cashiers and waitresses.  They are all so friendly and accommodating.  They make it like it’s a home-style restaurant. I sure wish there was some way that Hamilton Place and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Scrooge’ Of The Year

As we move into the last weekend before Christmas, the “Scrooge of the Year” has just appeared in Aurora, Ill. Actually Connie Ley has just died. She passed away on Nov. 25, but in her wake left the worst will many around the country have ever heard – her last wishes included that her nine-year-old dog should be put to death, cremated, and buried with her. Bela, a beautiful German ... (click for more)