Exide closing Bristol operations; city leaders still optimistic

Exide closing Bristol operations

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Exide Technologies is shutting down all operations in Bristol, Tennessee by mid-July.

Despite the setback, which includes 68 layoffs, we're learning city leaders remain optimistic.

The battery production company has been phasing out operations at this plant since 2011 as a means of cost reduction. "We had actually anticipated that this draw-down would happen in January of this year but they were able to keep production up," said Mike Sparks, Bristol, Tennessee's deputy city manager.

Sparks told News 5 he's disappointed to see these jobs gone for good. "Exide has been one of our major employers for many, many years, and anytime that you lose jobs it impacts people very personally," said Sparks.

But for many, there's still hope for complete recovery. "This town's always survived, and I think it will survive. It's Bristol," said local resident Jean Parsons.

Just Wednesday, new life was announced inside of the Pfizer plant, and Sparks said the city's call centers are showing signs of success. "We've been able to add well over 500 new jobs just in the last year," said Sparks.

Bristol, Tennessee has put a lot of emphasis on their new Pinnacle development. Officials say by the time it's up and running, it will create about 2,000 jobs and be another tool for recruitment.

We also discovered leaders are reaching out to other states and countries to bring new businesses in. "Recently, we've been to China specifically to recruit a Chinese business that is part of a larger corporation," Sparks told us.

It's all in hopes of a brighter future ahead.

More facts we learned:

Last year, city leaders were hopeful the company would grow its spiral wound vortex battery operations in Bristol, but Exide officials said that is not happening.    

An Exide spokesperson said the company owns most of that plant, and as of right now, they have no plans for its future.

We learned the company is offering severance for their laid-off employees.

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