CROSSVILLE – The Cookeville community celebrated a big economic development win this week, but please excuse leaders in nearby Cumberland County for not exactly jumping for joy.
Ficosa, a Barcelona-based automotive supplier known only as Project Uno until this week, announced Tuesday it would construct a new, $58 million facility in the Highlands Business Park, a deal that could mean 900 jobs by 2018. But it also means the company will be closing its facility in Crossville to make way for the new Putnam plant.
Leaders there say they did their best to get Ficosa to stay, including, according to the Crossville Chronicle, a deal worth around $7 million in incentives. The parties had been in talks as early as 2013, although communications became more public last fall as rumors swirled the company was considering other options. The final answer came in Tuesday’s state-wide announcement. It was a tough blow.
“I feel we did everything we could to keep them here, but I feel like they didn’t want to stay,” County Mayor Kenneth Carey told the newspaper. “We offered them a PILOT program, and I know the city made a very lucrative offer that they (Ficosa) left on the table. I’m not sure of the rhyme or reason as to why they chose to leave.”
All existing jobs at the Crossville plant on Sweeney Drive will be transferred, but, according to the Chronicle, employees who don’t want to make the drive will be ineligible for unemployment because the new facility will be less than 50 miles away. Ficosa says the Crossville plant currently employs 500.
Company officials didn’t elaborate any further on their decision to leave Crossville, saying only that the new facility will allow them to increase production, including production of components that are currently made in China and Mexico. And, maybe most importantly, jobs will stay in the Upper Cumberland. While Ficosa officials didn’t specifically discuss with Putnam leaders what other locations they were considering, one Cookeville official told the UCBJ that Kentucky may have been in the running. Ficosa has a production plant in Shelbyville, which is located 35 miles east of Louisville.
Ficosa has said it add 600 full-time jobs to the region by the end of 2016; 800 full-time jobs by the end of 2017; and more than 900 full-time jobs by Dec. 31, 2018. The company expect to begin limited production from the new factory in mid-2016.