published Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Manchester, Tenn., getting polyurethane parts manufacturer

Manchester Mayor Lonnie Norman
Manchester Mayor Lonnie Norman
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

MANCHESTER, Tenn. — Aspen Technologies Inc., a Brighton, Mich.-based polyurethane manufacturer, is building a $5.1 million dollar plant in the Manchester Industrial Park with the intentions to double its molding capacity, while adding 161 jobs to the local economy in the process.

"We're really excited about the Tennessee area. The people down there have just been incredible," Aspen Vice President Keith Quinn said Tuesday.

Quinn said Tennessee, Michigan, and Mississippi were in the running to get the plant. It made sense to be in the South, since many of Aspen's clients -- automakers -- are in the region.

"We were familiar with the area," he said. "We started looking, and basically, really the people at the industrial board in Manchester and the people in the state, you guys threw out the red carpet for us. It was a totally different atmosphere than we received in Mississippi and Michigan."

Aspen largely makes the polyurethane safety moldings that go on vehicles that help absorb impact during collisions. But a quarter of the company's production is nonautomotive, including military knee pads and molded sports memorabilia like the Ultimate Fan MLB Foam Hand, a beefier take on the foam finger classic.

Local officials said Tuesday that luring Aspen to town has been a deal-in-the-making for at least six months.

"Well, we've been working on it a good while. You know you're up and down on things like that," said Lonnie Norman, mayor of Manchester.

Aspen will be moving into the city's industrial park where the company bought a 65,000-square-foot shell of a building from the county industrial board and 18 acres from the city. Aspen will build out the empty structure to fill its needs. The site is near exit 117 along Interstate 24.

Most of the 161 jobs coming to Manchester because of Aspen will be in production. But Quinn said Aspen will bring some new hires to Michigan for on-site training, which will allow those individuals to train new employees back here.

Aspen Technical will be moving in the same industrial park that Ohio-based Great Lakes Cheese recently adopted for its $100 million Manchester distribution facility. Like Great Lakes Cheese, Aspen also was offered property tax breaks to locate in the park.

Ted Hackney, executive director of the Coffee County Industrial Board, said Manchester luring in two Northern-based firms within six months is "not strange."

"You see, the largest manufacturer in the county is a Japanese company," he said. "We have an established history of manufacturing and manufacturing support over the years."

Hiring for Aspen Technical's Manchester plant will begin in June. Production at the new facility is expected to start the first week of July.

The Manchester operation will begin hiring in June, and production is expected to begin the first week of July.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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