By MARINA WATERS
German air conditioning component company, EBM-Papst, has made its decision on the location for its newest manufacturing site. Soon, it will call Washington County home.
The electric motor and fan manufacturer plans to bring 200 jobs and a $37 million investment to the county. But at the announcement event for the new employer on Thursday, May 16, at the Washington County Industrial Park, local, state and EBM-Papst officials were focusing on the community minded aspect.
“It’s about a local partnership. And at the end of the day, it’s the company that falls in love with the local community and that works vice versa,” Bob Rolfe, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner, said. “This is a company that has searched the U.S. in a very competitive process, looked at multiple states, multiple sites in Tennessee and at the end of the day they picked your community. We’re very excited about this.”
EBM-Papst was deciding between another site in Tennessee and one in Texas. However, the company’s president, Mark Shiring, said numerous factors led the group to Tennessee’s oldest county.
“We selected Johnson City for several reasons. The location has a good proximity to our customer base providing good access for transportation,” Shiring said. “The community was very welcoming to our team and the interest was high in our project. There’s an active (economic development board) and we see the preservation revitalization of the downtown and surrounding area.”
Shiring also noted East Tennessee State University and the local Tennessee College of Applied Technology centers would provide the company a job pool and educational opportunities for potential employees.
Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy said at the event that he feels EBM-Papst will be “a great fit” for many reasons. But the top of his list is the company’s focus on the local community.
“One of the things that encouraged me the most about these folks is they made site visits to our community that we didn’t even know about,” Grandy said. “(They were) interfacing with our people here, doing a little shopping, doing a little dining … They saw growth, they saw things that made them want to be a part of our community. And that’s the kind of people we want to have be part of our community. It’s really been a nice combination.”