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Press Releases

Haslam Announces $185M Expansion of Spring Hill GM Complex

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 27, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with General Motors officials announced today the company will invest $185 million to make small gas engines at its Spring Hill manufacturing complex. GM also identified the next-generation Cadillac SRX as a future mid-size vehicle to be produced at Spring Hill.

“We want to congratulate GM on this important investment in its future in Spring Hill and Middle Tennessee,” Haslam said. “Today’s announcement speaks volumes around the country and world about our state’s business-friendly climate and strengths in automotive manufacturing, bringing us another step closer to our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Today’s announcement demonstrates how globally competitive Tennessee is in automotive production and underscores the tremendous momentum our state possesses in the automotive sector,” Hagerty said. “The quality craftsmanship and artisan strength of our workforce has proven time and again that Tennessee is the best place to invest and grow.”

The investment supports GM’s new small displacement engine, which is part of an all-new Ecotec engine family that will be used by five GM brands in 27 models by the 2017 model year, powering many of the company’s high-volume small car and compact-crossover vehicles.

Spring Hill is among six manufacturing locations around the globe that will produce the new engine, and an additional $48.4 million investment is planned for the Bedford, Indiana powertrain castings plant.

“The new Ecotec engine family represents the most advanced and efficient small displacement gasoline engines in GM’s history,” Arvin Jones, GM North America manufacturing manager, said. “It was a good business decision to produce this powertrain in Spring Hill and Bedford. Both teams have strong performance records, especially in quality.”

The new Ecotec portfolio includes 11 engines with three- and four-cylinder variants ranging from 1.0L to 1.5L – including turbocharged versions – and power ratings ranging from 75 horsepower (56 kW) to 165 horsepower (123 kW), and torque ranging from 70 lb-ft (95 Nm) to 184 lb-ft (250 Nm).

GM Spring Hill currently manufactures the award-winning Ecotec 2.0L turbocharged direct injection 4-cylinder engine, the Ecotec 2.4L direct injection 4-cylinder engine and Ecotec 2.5L direct injection engine, which powers the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu and Chevrolet Impala.

The naming of the Cadillac SRX program follows GM’s previously announced $350 million investment in Spring Hill for two future mid-size vehicles expected to create or retain approximately 1,800 jobs.

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Business and Economy Environment and Natural Resources NewsTracker

Vexing Vapors

A proposed crematory in Spring Hill and the volley of assertions about its potential impact on public health have city leaders scratching their heads, and they’ve decided to hire an expert to help them sort out whether the fumes could harm nearby residents.

The Columbia Daily Herald has been following the issue:

Spring Hill Memorial Park and Funeral Home is requesting the city approve a 3,600-square-foot crematory behind the funeral home on Main Street. The request has elicited fears from surrounding residents — mainly in the Witt Hill subdivision — who fear mercury vapors from dental amalgam fillings will be released into the air when bodies are incinerated. …

(The city attorney) told aldermen that hiring an expert would not cost more than $10,000 and would likely be closer to $5,000. In their vote, aldermen did not set a price limit on how much would be spent on the expert.

Silver-colored dental fillings are about half-mercury. The cremation industry points to studies that it says show the emissions from burning them along with a body are innocuous, but residents from Connecticut to Minnesota remain skeptical.

Around one-third of people in the U.S. are cremated at death, according to Scripps Howard News Service. The rate in Tennessee is 16 percent.

Meanwhile, in Britain, where seven in 10 people are cremated at death, the rules on emissions have been tightened, and the debate has moved on to another environmental challenge. Researchers there are looking at how and whether to recycle the heat captured in the process of cremating the body, the Guardian reported in April:

The onus is on UK crematoria to halve mercury emissions, which come mainly from tooth fillings, by 2012 and eliminate them altogether by 2020. Many will need to install new equipment. Those that have already invested in heat-capture technology usually divert the excess heat to other crematorium buildings.

Some crematoria in Sweden and Denmark have gone further, selling surplus heat for use in houses. Many see this as entirely sensible, avoiding the need for crematoria to have expensive and energy-hungry cooling towers. But others wonder if it breaches an ethical code drawn up the International Cremation Federation.

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Press Releases

TN Dept of Labor to Give Over $8 Mil to Laid Off GM Workers

Press Release from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Gov. Bill Haslam; March 23, 2011:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis today announced $8,397,127 to assist General Motors workers affected by layoffs in the automotive industry.

In addition to former General Motors employees in Spring Hill, the U.S. Department of Labor award aids workers at these supplier companies: Johnson Controls, MAPA Spontex, Penske Logistics, and Premier Manufacturing Services.

“The goal of this grant is to provide these workers the necessary training to find other career opportunities that will place them in new and permanent jobs,” said Haslam.

Examples of kinds of training workers can receive through the grant are Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Technology; Green Jobs Technology; several healthcare areas, including Licensed Practical Nursing; Automotive Technology; Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVAC); Residential Wiring and Plumbing; Electronics; Computer Operation and Networking; and Hospitality Arts. Most of the courses are offered at the Training Center at Northfield.

“The layoffs have been a blow to workers in the ten counties surrounding the Spring Hill plant,” said Commissioner Karla Davis. “This grant allows us to serve more people affected by this closure, continue existing programs, and provide these workers the in-demand skills they need to get back to work.”

The grant is awarded to the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development and operated by the South Central Tennessee Workforce Board.

Jan McKeel, Executive Director for the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance, said the grant will not only focus on classroom training, but also on paid internships and on-the-job training.

“We are thrilled the emergency grant will enable us to offer these dislocated workers specialized training opportunities not currently available,” said Jan. “We will continue the great work we’ve started.”

Affected workers must apply at the Career Center at Northfield or one of the Tennessee Career Centers serving the following counties: Giles, Hickman, Lawrence, Lewis, Marshall, Maury, Perry, Wayne, Rutherford, and Williamson.

A number of the workers covered by the grant also are certified as eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance. For those workers, this grant will provide access to “wrap-around” and supportive services, such as dependent care and transportation assistance, which are not available through the TAA program. Workers who are not eligible for TAA will have access to the full array of training and employment-related services available under the grant.

Of the $8,397,127 amount of the grant, $4,851,182 will be released initially. Additional funding up to the amount approved will be made available as need is demonstrated.

National Emergency Grants are part of the U.S. Secretary of Labor’s discretionary fund and are awarded based on a state’s ability to meet specific guidelines.