OAK RIDGE (WATE) – Protomet announced plans to expand their Oak Ridge manufacturing plant in February 2016 which would create 200 new jobs in the area.
The company purchased 20 acres near their current campus from the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board, but after surveying the land, Protomet’s president, Jeff Bohanan, said his company determined the expansion in Oak Ridge was no longer economically feasible. Instead, The company decided they would keep their location in Oak Ridge and build a second location in Loudon County at the site of the former Meremont plant.
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“We spent about $60,000 dollars with regards to investing in the architect and engineering studies and we found out through that analysis that we had a very specific way in which that expansion needed to be constructed on that property and the way that we wanted to do that expansion just would not work on that property,” said Bohanan. “There was quite a bit of excavation work then what was originally estimated and even the cost of building from scratch had gone up in the last 18 months. All of that combined into the perfect storm. We were coming up 50 percent above what our budget would be.”
The new facility will allow Protomet to expand their footprint to 244,000 square feet, about five times larger than their existing facility, according to Bohanan. He said the new location allows them to keep their existing operations and existing jobs in Oak Ridge. He also said they may use 20 acres they purchased in Oak Ridge for a future expansion whenever that is needed.
“You kind of had your mind started in expanding in Oak Ridge, but then when you start look at what it will take to do this regionally, it’s kind of cool that it can still be in East Tennessee,” said Bohanan, who is originally from East Tennessee.
He says Protomet plans to start hiring for their new location in the third quarter and ramp up hiring in 2018.
“Just driving through Loudon County and knowing that Protomet will make a big impact in that community is equally exciting, because we take a lot of pride in making an economic impact in the community,” said Bohanan. “It is going to be a challenge working out of both facilities, but we’re kind of excited.”