Nissan to build $160M supplier park at Tennessee plant that will attract more than 1,000 jobs

MarketsAssociated Press

Nissan Motor Co. announced plans Tuesday to build a new $160 million supplier park at its Tennessee assembly plant that the Japanese automaker projects to attract more than 1,000 jobs.

Nissan North America Chairman Jose Munoz called the supplier park a key component in the company's drive toward capturing 10 percent of the U.S. market share.

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"Nissan has continued to invest in Tennessee because you have created a business environment that encourages growth and innovation," Munoz said at a ceremony at the state Capitol.

Gov. Bill Haslam noted that Nissan has more than 12,000 Nissan employees between its Smyrna complex and an engine plant in Decherd.

"We make things in Tennessee, and we're proud of that," Haslam said. "We make cars and guitars and candy and whiskey and a whole lot of other things."

But the governor said the automotive industry is particularly important to the state, "because it means a ripple effect of suppliers."

Nissan's year to date market share was 9.3 percent at the end of February, up from 8.1 percent at the same time last year, according to Autodata Corp.

The automaker's plans call for the new 1.5 million-square-foot logistics center to be built in phases starting next year and completed by the end of 2017.

More than 8,400 people work at the Nissan plant that built 648,000 vehicles last year, making it the highest-producing plant in North America. The plant, which opened in 1983, makes the Altima, Maxima, Leaf, Rogue, Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60.

John Martin, the senior vice president for Nissan North America's manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain management, said the goal is to cut down on transportation costs and to have a more direct hand in quality control.

The growth in the automobile sector means many suppliers are already reaching capacity at their current locations, and Nissan wants them to consider locating new production at the new supplier park instead of at existing facilities in the Midwest.

"If you're closer to me, you're not spending as much money on non-value added things like trucks," Martin said. "It takes away a major headache for them: Don't worry about permitting, don't worry about hazardous disposal.

"We've taken care of it all," he said. "Just turn up. It's basically plug and play."