ALCOA (WATE) – The United States Department of Energy announced Thursday it has conditionally approved a $259 million loan to Alcoa Inc. to expand its Tennessee plant and create hundreds of new jobs.
The loan is part of the Obama Administration’s effort to support more advanced vehicles that are more affordable, strengthen U.S. leadership in vehicle manufacturing and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
If finalized, the loan will help Alcoa expand its manufacturing facility to produce high-strength aluminum for North American automakers. The type of high-strength aluminum which would be produced helps boost fuel economy by reducing vehicle weight while maintaining safety.
The company has been moving to supply automakers switching to aluminum rather than steel, manufacturing vehicles like the Ford F-150. State and local leaders held a groundbreaking at Alcoa’s North Plant in August 2013.
“The fact that they’re reinvestment into the area, the money that they’re putting back into it is really an asset and it’s encouraging to everybody else in Blount County and the city of Alcoa,” said Mayor Don Mull.
Alcoa estimates the expanded production would create 200 permanent full-time jobs and 400 temporary jobs to support new construction.
More jobs is good news for Jamar Dye, who recently applied to Alcoa Inc.
“Saw online that they were hiring. So I put in an application for Production Associate. Hopefully I’ll get a call back,” he said.
Over the last four years, Blount Partnership says 2,600 industrial and manufacturing jobs have come into the community.
“The community grows. We have the opportunity to build better schools, better infrastructure, and things like that. So this means it’s really a booming area for us,” said Jeff Muir with Blount Partnership.
It’s a big investment in a small community. Some are hopeful it will also be an investment in their future.
“Career you’re there for 15 to 20 years,” said Dye.
A number of these jobs are still open. The company suggests if you would like to apply to do so online at their website by clicking here.
Alcoa Inc. released a statement to WATE 6 On Your Side from Tennessee Operations Location Manager Ken McMillen saying: “Efficient investments, such as the utilization of this low-interest loan, allow Alcoa to grow and foster future innovation as we continue to transform the company into a lightweight metals leader.”
“This is good news for Alcoa and Tennessee,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander. “Today, more than one-third of Tennessee manufacturing jobs are auto related, and investment in advanced manufacturing is an important part of how our state will continue to attract good-paying jobs.”