MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Production is heating up at the big Electrolux kitchen oven plant in Memphis, and officials said Thursday they expect to eventually employ 1,200 people and produce 600,000 ovens annually.
Electrolux officials led Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and state and local politicians on a grand-opening tour of the 750,000-square-foot factory located at an industrial park in southwest Memphis.
Using assembly lines, lasers and robotic arms, the high-tech facility is making Electrolux and Frigidaire cooking ranges and ovens to sell at major retailers. Production at the plant began in the fall, but the facility is now ready to increase its capacity.
Strongly backed by politicians and supported by taxpayer incentives, the factory carries high expectations as a long-term job producer.
Jack Truong, president and CEO of Electrolux Major Appliances North America, said 550 people are currently working at the factory, and about 650 more will be added as production reaches top levels at 600,000 ovens annually within the next five years.
"This is a big deal for us, also because of the range of employment it's brought, everything from entry level jobs to high-tech jobs," Haslam told reporters after the tour. "We want to show that in Tennessee we can provide that workforce no matter where you are on that spectrum."
Haslam said the state is talking with high schools, technology colleges and four-year universities to ensure they graduate the type of worker that fits the needs of Tennessee's companies.
"We haven't done a good job of that In the past," Haslam said. "The market's real clear in telling us what they need. They need engineers and welders and nurses and truck drivers. That's on us."
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