Spoils of Electrolux battle come to Memphis Wednesday

On October 5, 2011, in News 2011, by Mark Norris

Michael Sheffield, BizJournals.com
Ocotber 5, 2011

While the process hasn’t always been pretty, an extremely positive tone was struck at the ground breaking of Electrolux Home Products Inc.’s $200 million manufacturing facility in Memphis Wednesday.
Speaking at the event at Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park were Memphis City Mayor A C Wharton, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Electrolux North America CEO Jack Truong, City Council Chairman Myron Lowery, Tennessee Sen. Mark Norris and Lt. Gov. Claude Ramsey all spoke. Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority chairman Arnold Perl served as master of ceremonies.
The facility, which was announced last December, has received more than $150 million in incentives from the state, Memphis and Shelby County, including $40 million in bonds from the city and county, $92 million for infrastructure improvements, design, site preparation and construction costs and $5 million for infrastructure work pertaining to construction on the site.
While the deal was made during the final days of former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen’s tenure, current Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration agreed to honor the commitment after some initial concern.
Ramsey said the current administration wanted to explore the deal.
“This is a project we inherited, but the commitment has been kept,” Ramsey said. “We don’t have enough money to fight each other any more. We’ve got to fight for things.”
Truong said the Memphis facility will be a major part of Electrolux’s North American operations. It is expected to create 1,200 jobs in Memphis and the company anticipates employing more than 4,000 people in Memphis and Springfield, Tenn. (where it has a manufacturing and research and development facility).
The plant will manufacture the company’s Electrolux ICON and Frigidaire built-in and specialty cooking products, including drop-in/slide-in ranges, wall ovens, specialty freestanding ranges and cooktops. At full capacity, the facility will manufacture 700,000 ovens a year.
The company will be shuttering a facility in Montreal, eliminating 1,300 jobs and shifting production to Memphis by 2012.
“Our commitment remains as solid today as it did when we announced our decision,” Truong said.
Earlier this year, there were concerns from the Shelby County Commission about approving the county’s $20 million share of the bonds. While the commission eventually voted in favor of approving the bonds, Luttrell admitted the process “hasn’t always been harmonious, but the result was very positive.”
“We stressed the importance for transparency throughout this process and that’s what we’ve all done,” Luttrell said. “There were some tough questions, but it was all for the good.”
While the project has major local importance, Chris Masingill, director of the Delta Regional Authority, said it will also have a lasting impact on the entire region.
“10 million people (in the region) count on us to make a difference in their lives, and that’s exactly what this project is about,” Masingill said. “The Delta region will never truly be successful without making sure Memphis and Shelby County are successful. We are counting on Memphis and Shelby County to continue to move us forward.”

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