Friday, July 30, 2010

Auto supplier NHK Spring to bring 224 jobs to Murfreesboro

Up to 224 new jobs will be created in Murfreesboro by Japanese auto-parts supplier NHK Spring Ltd. when it opens a $54 million plant in mid-2011 to make seat components for vehicles that Nissan assembles at its Smyrna manufacturing complex.
The plant will be built on a 50-acre site at Joe B. Jackson Parkway and Interstate 24 by NHK's U.S. subsidiary, NHK Seating of America Inc. Construction will begin in October, the company said.

In a separate announcement, Interstate Warehousing said it would expand its refrigerated storage and food-distribution facility, on Joe B. Jackson Parkway near the NHK site, and add 31 jobs to the 57 positions it already has.

The two projects are in an industrial-development area that was created by the city of Murfreesboro and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Two other manufacturing companies already are operating in the area: Perfect Equipment Co., which employs 278 people in the manufacture of wheel weights, and Pretoria Engineering, which has 60 workers who make components for mass-transit vehicles.

"The idea was to build that I-24 interchange to create an industrial-development zone, and it has paid off," said Holly Sears, vice president for economic development at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.

NHK's facility will be a so-called "tier one" supplier for the Nissan assembly plant in Smyrna, about 15 miles away, and will be ready to begin production of seat components for Nissan vehicles about the time Nissan starts making its new Leaf electric car at the Smyrna complex in late 2011 or early 2012.

But Sears, Nissan and NHK officials couldn't confirm Wednesday whether the NHK plant would be making parts for the Leaf.

Nissan also is building a $1 billion lithium-ion battery plant at the Smyrna complex to supply batteries for the Leaf, but that's an in-house project and won't be developed by an outside supplier.

The NHK jobs come at the same time Volkswagen is building a plant to produce a mid-size sedan in Chattanooga, and that project also has spawned suppliers' jobs.

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