By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor
BAXTER – State and local officials gathered at DelMonaco Winery in Baxter as Portobello America, Inc., a Brazilian ceramic tile company, announced it will locate its first U.S. production plant and its U.S. headquarters in Baxter investing approximately $150 million and creating 220 jobs. The company is currently preparing to open a warehouse and distribution facility in Cookeville.
“Portobello’s decision to locate its new production facility and U.S. headquarters and create more than 200 jobs in Baxter will be transformational for the community,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. “In Tennessee, we have created a business-friendly environment that promotes growth in all of our communities across the state, and I appreciate Portobello for seeing what great assets Tennessee and Putnam County have to offer. I look forward to seeing this company succeed in our state and with investments like this, Tennessee will lead in the creation of high-quality jobs.”
Portobello is the largest tile manufacturer in Brazil. The company serves countries on five continents and markets through multi-brand retailers, the Portobello Shop franchise, and the sales channel for engineering. Portobello has more than 2,600 employees, responsible for the design and innovation of items that launch trends in architecture and interior design in Brazil.
“With these products, you need to be a ‘made in the USA’ company,” Portobello President Cesar Gomes, Junior said. “You need to have your facility, your production, and your inventory here to be able to serve your market with the right quality, at the right time and at the right cost. In this sense, Tennessee is really fantastic.”
The company’s location in Baxter was the result of 18 months of discussions between company officials and state and local economic development representatives.
“Portobello represents the largest capital investment for a manufacturing project in our county’s history, and we thank them for becoming our newest economic development partner,” Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter said. “I’m proud of all the work that went into getting us to this point and our team is ready to continue working with Portobello for many years to come.”
“We are not here for the short-term,” added Gomes. “We’re not talking about one to two years. It’s a long-term partnership. We are very pleased, and we are going to do our best to be able to add to this community and to be able to be a partnership with you.”
Portobello will locate its new operations on the current Tennessee Motor Speedway site in Putnam County. Construction on the new facility is set to be complete by 2021.
“We thank Portobello for committing to investing in our region and for the over 200 jobs they will be creating. We’ve had our eye on this market segment for some time and we couldn’t think of a better company than Portobello to join our community,” Highlands Economic Partnership President and CEO George Halford said.
The Industrial Development Board signed a PILOT agreement for a $150 million capital investment project in Putnam County Friday for Portobello, which was previously referred to as “Project Sim.” The PILOT offer includes 10 years of tax abatement and five years at 50 percent. Personal property will be abated for five years, and starting in the sixth year, the company would pay 50 percent. In the seventh year, the company would begin paying 60 percent.
“We’re building the future,” added Halford. “We’re building dreams and we’re building opportunities for our children and our grandchildren, where in years to come, they won’t have to leave our community.”