Project Uno unveiled: Ficosa North America to build new facility in Putnam County

COOKEVILLE – Project Uno has been revealed. Ficosa North America will build a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Putnam County.

The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon by Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd along with Ficosa North America officials. The automotive supplier will invest $58 million in the facility and create more than 550 jobs by 2016.

“We want to thank Ficosa for further investing in Tennessee and for creating 550 new jobs in the Upper Cumberland area,” Haslam said in a release. “With more than 900 auto suppliers and manufacturers, our state is known worldwide for its strengths and momentum in the automotive sector, which help us move closer to achieving our goal of becoming the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“We aim to be the most aligned state in economic development from the state level to the local level to our educational partners, and today’s announcement demonstrates just what teamwork can accomplish,” Boyd added. “Thank you to Ficosa for choosing to grow in Tennessee and for trusting in our dedicated workforce and sound business climate.”

Ficosa’s state-of-the-art facility will be built in the Highlands Business Park in Cookeville. Ficosa’s existing Tennessee plant in nearby Crossville produces mirror assemblies for Nissan, Ford, Volkswagen, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors and other auto manufacturers. The company will transfer the existing jobs to the new Cookeville facility, which will increase production capacity and allow components currently made in China and Mexico to be made in Tennessee.

Pre-production of the new facility is already underway, and Ficosa will begin limited production from the new factory in mid-2016.

“This is a strategic move that will allow the consolidation of key operations and enable further future growth,” Ficosa’s Global Chief Executive Javier Pujol said.  “This new state-of-the-art facility will not only allow us to better serve our customers but also provide a better and more secure future for our Tennessee employees.”

Project Uno, as it was dubbed, was kept secret for months, which is typical in economic development (see “How Project Victor was won”), but talks of Ficosa leaving Crossville were made public in October. Per its memorandums of understanding (MOU) with the city and county, Ficosa has said it expects to add 600 full-time equivalent jobs in Cookeville by the end of 2016; 800 full-time jobs by the end of 2017; and more than 900 full-time equivalent jobs by Dec. 31, 2018.

Cookeville’s Industrial Development Board (IDB) met to approve some of the final pieces of the puzzle on Friday, authorizing documents necessary for the issuance of up to $50 million in industrial development revenue notes, funds that will be used to acquire the land, property and equipment for the facility’s construction, as well as a $125,000 a year Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement.

“This is an exciting time for our community and our region,” Bob Bell, chairman of the Cookeville-Putnam County Industrial Development Board, said. “Ficosa will provide excellent job opportunities for citizens all across Cookeville and the Highlands area. We are so thankful that the company has decided to locate here and understand that this is a statement of respect for our communities and for our outstanding regional workforce. We appreciate the visionary efforts of our chamber, city, county and state leaders who made this project happen. We also deeply appreciate the years of hard work on the part of many people that have led to this day, and we commit to continuing this hard work to make the Ficosa operation an outstanding success.”

“This project took longer than most, and I can’t speak highly enough of the cooperation and teamwork exhibited by all parties involved,” Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton added. “Ficosa will be the first company (to) locate in our Highlands Business Park and fits the bill to innovate, elevate and accelerate. Their location benefits our economy regionally, and we are proud to welcome them to our community.”

“We are extremely excited Ficosa has chosen Putnam County for its new expansion,” Putnam County Executive Randy Porter said. “They are a perfect fit for our new Highlands Business Park, and our county looks forward to a long lasting relationship with them.”

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