KINGSPORT, Tenn. - More jobs are coming to Kingsport -- Tuesday officials broke ground on the new Eastman Chemical corporate headquarters building, bringing hundreds of jobs closer to reality.
Many people gathered to watch officials break ground for Eastman Chemical Company's new company headquarters in Kingsport. "This city wants to say thank you for ensuring the corporate headquarters of the Eastman Chemical Company remains in Kingsport, Tennessee. It's a great day," said Kingsport mayor Dennis Phillips.
The new headquarters will bring 300 new professional jobs with it over the next seven years, as well as construction jobs. "These are long-term jobs. As Eastman grows, we need these people," says Eastman's current CEO Jim Rodgers.
The new building will provide space needed to grow and bring employees from the Kingsport site together.
The State of Tennessee has a big investment in the project. It's giving $20 million in grant money to Eastman's expansion; $10 million will go to the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing, where many Eastman employees are initially trained. "There are very few companies you can say are as important to a state as Eastman is to Tennessee. Not just the number of jobs, not just the investment, but who they are as a company," adds Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, who was on hand for the occasion.
Eastman's incoming CEO Mark Costa tells us the company considered different locations across the nation to build the corporate headquarters. "It was a serious consideration. The state made sure we never went down to the final decision on that, but if they hadn't been competitive that's a decision we could have made," adds Costa.
Costa wants everyone to know with the groundbreaking and expansions set to happen they are committed to the Kingsport area. "We wouldn't be building this building if we didn't believe in staying here long-term, if we didn't see the future that will grow the company. It's the commitment we're making to the community," adds Costa.
Eastman leaders have not said which specific positions will be added or when hiring will start.
Construction on the new building is set to begin next month. They expect it to be open in 2015.
View photos of the groundbreaking and plans for the building below: