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Automotive supplier to invest $40 million in Lincoln County plant

LINCOLN COUNTY, Tenn. - A Japanese auto supplier plans to invest $40 million and create more than 100 jobs in Lincoln County over the next three years, officials said Monday.

Hirotec America Inc. plans to build a plant in the Runway Centre Industrial Park in Park City, located just south of Fayetteville on Highway 431, according to a release from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Construction is scheduled to begin next year, and the company anticipates the plant going online in the third quarter of 2020, officials said.

Elaine Middleton, Excecutive Director of the Fayetteville- Lincoln County Industrial Development Board, told us by phone that the company will have a metal stamping operation in Lincoln County to make door panels. It is a Tier 1 supplier, she said, and the average wage will be $21 per hour.

Hirotec specializes in making auto tooling. The company's website says it has customers worldwide including auto makers Toyota, Mazda, BMW, General Motors, and Nissan.

Tennessee is big in the auto world, calling it the "the beating heart of the southern automotive corridor."  Franklin hosts a plant in Smyrna, General Motors' is in Spring Hill, and Chattanooga has a Volkswagen plant. Meanwhile, Alabama will soon gain a Mazda Toyota plant in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County, as revealed earlier this year.

We talked to Bill Newman, Lincoln County Mayor, about the announcement. He said Hirotec America will be the first company in Runway Centre.

"We are excited that we got that park opened up with such a great industry," he stated. "They're a great company."

We asked him if the auto supply industry is a niche Lincoln County is now finding it can fit into.

"I think it is a niche, and it's mainly because you know, Tennessee and now Alabama are major builders of automobiles. So now it's just natural for us to be a supplier for those manufacturing plants.

"One of the things that's great for our community is we are in a supply distance that they can quickly supply them, but we are not drawing off of their workforce," he added later.

Newman said in casual conversation with company executives, he learned why they came to Fayetteville.

"I just asked them as a group, why did you select us? And they said they loved our community, they loved the people, and they hadn't met anyone who was negative in our community. That says a lot about our community. Our people are great. You might as well say that the people is the reason they came."

Newman said more job and economic announcements are on the horizon, and he envisions building on this momentum in the new year.

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