Del Conca plans $70M factory in Loudon

Italian firm will create 178 new jobs

Hugh G. Willett

An Italian manufacturer of ceramic tile will bring 178 new jobs to Loudon County.

The Loudon County Economic Development Agency announced that it has finalized a deal to bring Del Conca to the Sugar Limb Industrial Park in Loudon.

In a news release, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said he was excited to welcome Del Conca to the state and praised the announcement as another step in the goal to make Tennessee the top spot in the Southeast for high-quality jobs.

The announcement is the result of a four-year courtship that involved numerous meetings between representatives of the EDA, local elected officials and the Del Conca management, said Loudon EDA president Pat Phillips.

"They were very deliberate in their search," Phillips said.

The approval of incentives by the City of Loudon and Loudon County paved the way for Del Conca to agree to invest $70 million in a new 320,000-square foot facility. The new plant will use the latest in sustainable practices, Phillips said.

Phase One of the project is expected to cost about $50 million and will involve construction of the facility and hiring of about 100 workers by December 2013. Phase Two will involve an additional $20 million investment and 78 more jobs that will follow over five to six years.

The selection of Loudon as the site for the new plant is "almost like an angel dropping out of the sky," said Loudon County Mayor Estelle Herron.

The county was hit hard by the closure of Yale Lock Company in Lenoir City earlier this year. At $15 to $17 per hour, the new jobs will help replace good-paying jobs that the county has lost in recent years, she said.

The Loudon facility will establish a U.S. manufacturing and headquarters presence to serve major U.S. customers including Lowe's, Arizona Tile, Mannington and Tile Shop, as well as outlets in Canada. A retail outlet is also planned.

The Loudon County Commission approved three resolutions to support the recruitment of Del Conca, including authorizing the sale of approximately 30 acres at a cost of $15,000 per acre in the Sugar Limb Industrial Park. The county is also providing a pad-ready, graded site and parking areas and will extend infrastructure to the site.

The county would also authorize the company to make a payment-in-lieu-of-tax of $168,574 per year for 10 years, while the state is expected to provide $750,000 in FastTrack Infrastructure and Training Assistance incentives.

A resolution approved by the Loudon City Council authorized the sale of the property in the industrial park and participation in the PILOT program.