Note: This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. July 29.
CLINTON—The Clinton City Council voted unanimously Monday to make an exchange with SL Tennessee.
SL Tennessee was given more than 52 acres after the auto parts manufacturer announced plans to invest $80.5 million to build a 250,000-square-foot plant in the Clinton I-75 Industrial Park. The building, SL Tennessee’s fifth expansion since locating in Clinton in 2001, will manufacture automobile headlights and tail lamps for General Motors.
In exchange, after construction is complete, the company will donate between $200,000 and $250,000 to the city to build a new fire station in the industrial park.
Anderson County Economic Development Association Director Tim Thompson approached the council during a special-called meeting Monday morning to propose the deal. No one from the public came forward to speak on the proposal.
The new 250,000-square-foot SL Tennessee building will be built on 52 acres that the City of Clinton has agreed to transfer to the company at no charge.
Before the vote, Councilman Jerry Shattuck called the transfer “a tremendous investment for the city.” Thompson added that the economic impact would be far-reaching. He expects that hotels, restaurants, and car rental companies will see new business as the company brings in visitors.
The company expects the expansion will add 1,000 new jobs, making SL Tennessee Clinton’s largest employer.
Construction is slated to begin in August, with a projected completion in April 2015.
The 52 acres is across a small creek from the two existing SL Tennessee plants on Frank L. Diggs Drive in the Clinton I-75 Industrial Park. One of the current plants is a chassis plant that manufactures gear shifters and pedal assemblies, and the other is a lighting plant that produces head lights and tail lamps.
Clinton City Manager Roger Houck said that the area has a high potential for growth, especially after new industrial agreements, and the new fire station would be well placed to cover the area. Additionally, it would bring the city in agreement with a 2006 Anderson County lawsuit that required a new fire station “up near I-75.”
In addition, the city is reopening the fire department headquarters near City Hall as a manned station and will have an open house August 4 between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m.
Sara Wise is a freelance contributor to Oak Ridge Today.