Christensen Shipyards Ltd., a West Coast company
expanding to Loudon County, will bring both
prestige and jobs to the area, local officials
The maker of yachts, some 170 feet to 220
feet long, is expected to begin construction in
six weeks on a 450,000-square-foot plant to
produce the vessels.
"It's certainly a feather in our cap that
they choose to be here," Loudon County Mayor
George Miller said. "It's one of the most
prestigious yacht builders in the world. It's
going to be a real contribution to the
employment base in our county. These are good
Henry Luken, an owner of Vancouver,
Wash.-based Christensen Shipyards, has an option
to purchase some 60 acres in the Wears Bend Area
of Loudon County near Greenback, Miller said. It
will be near the Monroe County line along the
east side of Tellico Lake on 680 acres of
industrial land and will be the first
development on that property.
Media reports this week, including the News
Sentinel, incorrectly identified Monroe County
as the plant's location.
Loudon County officials expect assistance
from the state in putting in a mile-long access
road to the site, but Tennessee Department of
Economic and Community Development spokeswoman
Dawn Rutledge Jones said Friday the state so far
has no information on the project.
"We think we will have other industries
looking at that area once the road is put in,"
Miller said. "It's the first industrial location
on the east side of Tellico Lake."
Other than the road, Miller said he knows of
no other incentives offered to get the
Luken said when the company begins making
yachts in about a year he expects to hire about
500 employees. But the facility will be large
enough to employ 1,000.
"It's a big deal," Miller said.
The yachts are made of fiberglass and other
composite material, not steel, and cost between
$50 million and $60 million.
Luken, an owner of Knoxville-based Jewelry
Television who bought the real estate holdings
of U.S. Senate candidate and former Chattanooga
Mayor Bob Corker, lives in Chattanooga and
became interested in Christensen's yachts after
having owned several of the boats.
Pat Phillips, Loudon County Economic
Development Agency director, said the employment
at Christensen would be "extremely significant."
"It will be 1,000 (employees) at full
production," he said. "It takes two years to
produce a yacht. It will require a lot of
Phillips expects the jobs to offer good wages
Luken said one of the main reasons he chose
Loudon County was its access to the Tennessee
River and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, the Gulf
of Mexico and ports in Florida and the
In addition, he cited the area's insulation
from hurricanes that plague boat builders in
He noted that transporting a yacht from
Vancouver to Florida is a 5,300-mile trip while
transporting from Loudon County via inland
waterways and the Gulf of Mexico to Fort
Lauderdale, Fla., is 1,200 miles.
Business writer Rebecca Ferrar may be reached