Staff photo by Harrison Keely/ Chattanooga Times Free Press. Local officials break ground on the site of Whirlpool's new $120 million Cleveland, Tenn. facility.
CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The house where Beverly Finnell spent her honeymoon no longer stands.
The fields where she worked with her husband baling hay and taking care of cattle are being prepared for a new kind of work.
Whirlpool Corp. officials broke ground on Finnell’s old property Thursday for a new 1 million-square-foot manufacturing plant and a 400,000-square-foot warehouse.
“This land has always meant a whole lot to me, but this means a whole lot more because it affects a whole lot more families,” Finnell said.
Even before politicians and company heads drove shovels into the ground, excavating crews were working in the background to ready the site.
“We’re not wasting any time to get to this ribbon-cutting ceremony,” said Dicky Walters, Whirlpool’s plant leader in Cleveland. “We’re moving just as fast as we can.”
Whirlpool Vice President Al Holaday, former employee Bill McClure and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., lauded the decision to keep the plant in Cleveland.
“It warms my heart when American workers can keep major corporations [from] moving to Mexico, where they can get cheaper labor but not near the quality labor,” Wamp said.
The new plant, which will replace the company’s 100-year-old manufacturing plant near downtown Cleveland, will be at Benton Pike and Michigan Avenue.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said he repeatedly emphasized the value of the local employees to Whirlpool executives during initial discussions about the expansion.
“You’d be a fool to go anywhere else but Cleveland and Bradley County,” he said.
Harrison Keely is an online breaking news producer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He also anchors the daily newscast. He joined the Times Free Press as a reporter in 2010. He previously served as managing editor of the Smoky Mountain Sentinel in western North Carolina and as a business reporter for the Washington Times in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Lee University in 2009 where he served as managing editor of the student news ...