Interstate Lane — Nov. 2012

By Karen Baird

TENNESSEE: Nissan to add third shift, 810 jobs at Smyrna assembly plant

Nissan’s popular Altima model is built at its plant in Smyrna, Tenn.

Nissan is adding 810 manufacturing jobs at its Smyrna (Tenn.) Vehicle Assembly Plant to support the addition of a third shift there. The expansion represents the first time in the plant’s 30-year history that the company has operated a third shift.

Nissan officials said the new shift and hiring plans are a direct result of an increased demand for Nissan products and part of its planned strategy to localize core-model production. By 2015, Nissan wants to have 85 percent of all Nissan and Infiniti products that are sold in the United States to be produced here as well.

Nissan’s North American headquarters is located in Franklin, Tenn.

The Smyrna plant, which produces the Nissan Altima, Maxima, Pathfinder and Infiniti JX, began production in 1983 and has an annual production capacity of 550,000 vehicles. The plant is also slated to soon begin production on the 100-percent electric LEAF model as well as the next-generation Nissan Rouge. Employment at the Smyrna plant now exceeds 6,000 employees, 2,000 of which have been added since mid-2011.

INDIANA: ASCENA expands operations in Greencastle, will add 242 jobs

Ascena Retail Group Inc., a national specialty retailer of apparel for women and tween girls, has announced plans to expand its operations in Greencastle, Ind., creating up to 242 new jobs by 2018.

Ascena, which acquired Charming Shoppes Inc. in June, operates the distribution needs of the company’s Justice, Lane Bryant, maurices, dressbarn and
Catherines brands. The company operates, through its subsidiaries, approximately 3,800 stores throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.

“Online sales continue to be the most rapidly growing part of our business, and the efficient operation of ecommerce distribution is a critical component of our ability to serve our customers in an exceptional manner,” said David Jaffe, president and chief executive officer of Ascena. “The opportunity to consolidate all our ecommerce distribution under one roof – to maximize labor, inventory and transportation efficiencies – supports our strategies and allows us to transform and expand our facility in Indiana.”

The company plans to invest approximately $34 million, primarily in equipment and systems, to transform the 123-acre Greencastle campus to become its primary ecommerce distribution site and is investing an additional $3 million to add 40,000 s.f. to the existing 794,000-s.f. facility. Originally constructed in 1954, the Greencastle distribution center was purchased by Charming Shoppes in 1987. Ascena plans to continue to employ 185 associates in Greencastle and is currently in the process of hiring additional distribution, warehouse and management associates.

Interstate Lane Business Briefs

INDIANA

Cummins Inc., a Columbus, Ind.-based producer of engines and related technologies, is eliminating between 1,000 and 1,500 jobs by the end of the year in response to a weakened global economy. The job cuts represent approximately 2 percent of the company’s total employment. Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger said an increased level of uncertainty regarding the direction of the global economy is resulting in end customers “delaying capital expenditures in a number of markets, lowering demand for our products.” To address the decreased demand, Cummins is implementing workweek reductions as well as shutdowns at some manufacturing facilities.

 

OHIO

– Defense Contractor BAE Systems has announced plans to end military production at its plant in West Chester, Ohio, and will transfer those operations to its facility in Sealy, Texas. The decision, which the company said will streamline the organization and reduce costs, will eliminate approximately 160 of the 294 employees currently employed in West Chester. All commercial armored vehicle, transport armor and joint light tactical vehicle engineering work at the West Chester facility will continue.

RightSource, Humana Inc.’s mail order pharmacy service, is adding 200 full-time jobs at its Cincinnati-area distribution center and offices. Positions will include pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, inventory management, and shipping and packaging. The expansion is the company’s third major employment announcement for the Cincinnati area within the last five years. During that time frame, the local company presence has grown from less than 800 employees at one location to 2,200 employees at three locations.

TENNESSEE

The Krystal Co., a restaurant chain known for its small square hamburgers topped with onions and steamed buns, has announced plans to move its corporate headquarters from Chattanooga to Atlanta in early 2013. The company was founded in Chattanooga in 1932, but was sold to Atlanta-based Argonne Capital Group earlier this year. The company said the move to Atlanta, which will involve about 60 employees, offers a more central location that will better support its existing restaurants.

Hemlock Semiconductor is preparing to open the first phase of its polycrystalline silicon manufacturing plant in Clarksville, Tenn., a $1.2 billion project that will create some 500 jobs. Polycrystalline silicon is a base component used in the production of solar energy panels. The soon-to-be-opened facility is part of a massive project that is designed for up to four construction phases, with a long-term investment estimated at some $5 billion. According to The (Clarksville) Leaf-Chronicle, the project is expected to bring the most dramatic change to the community since Fort Campbell was established in the early 1940s.

Dolly Parton has withdrawn from a partnership with Gaylord Entertainment that planned to build a $50 million snow and water park at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville. Parton’s announcement followed a decision by Gaylord shareholders to convert the hospitality and entertainment company into a real estate investment trust and sell the Gaylord brand name and management rights for its four resort hotels to Marriott. A spokesman for Parton told The (Nashville) Tennessean, “We looked at the change in the day-to-day operations of the property and that, in Dolly’s view, fundamentally changed the program we were planning.”

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is eliminating some 100 positions across the state in a cost-cutting measure that will affect jobs ranging from operations center positions all the way up to executive management. An additional 100 vacant positions will remain unfilled for 2013. “The health insurance industry is undergoing tremendous changes, “ said BlueCross CEO-Elect Bill Gracey. “It is growing more competitive by the day, and we are facing unprecedented challenges that require us to operate more efficiently.”

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