Benton Harbor, Mich. -- Whirlpool yesterday officially opened its new manufacturing facility in Cleveland, Tenn., for the production of premium cooking products.
The $200 million facility includes a state-of-the-art 1 million-square-foot production facility and a 400,000-square-foot distribution center. Whirlpool expects the project will add about 130 new jobs to its existing Cleveland workforce.
Whirlpool chairman and CEO Jeff Fettig and U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, which also included Deputy Governor Claude Ramsey and Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, among other federal, state and local officials.
The company said the plant "includes some of the most energy-efficient and technologically advanced manufacturing processes and is expected to obtain LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council."
The new facility is replacing a 123-year-old plant a few miles away. The full transition to the new facility is expected to be complete by mid-2013.
"We are proud to have more U.S. manufacturing employees than all of our major competitors combined, and today's ceremony further signifies Whirlpool Corporation's confidence in the Cleveland, Tenn., workforce and in U.S. manufacturing in general," said Jeff Fettig, chairman and CEO for Whirlpool. "The advanced production here supports the growth of our premium cooking products business, which includes some of the most innovative ranges, ovens and cooktops offered in the marketplace."
Whirlpool said it spends more than $7.4 billion to operate its nine U.S. plants, that it employs 15,000 manufacturing workers, and that more than 80 percent of Whirlpool products sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S.
"I want to congratulate all the people at Whirlpool on 100 years of making things here in America. Today, CEOs both in the U.S. and abroad are seeing places like Cleveland, Tenn., and they're saying, â€˜That's where I want my next factory to go,'" said U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson. "They see our R&D, our supply chains, the quality of our products and our talented workforce. There is simply no comparison. American competitiveness and American innovation are full speed ahead."
The new facility is part of a four-year, $1 billion investment strategy in U.S. manufacturing jobs, the company said. The plan also includes:
* a new $85 million headquarters campus in Benton Harbor, Mich.;
* the acquisition of the former WC Wood facility in Ottawa, Ohio, adding nearly 400 jobs and bringing total employment in Ohio to approximately 10,000, making it the largest manufacturing center for appliances in the U.S.;
* a $175 million investment in the company's Clyde, Ohio, laundry facilities; and
* a $20 million investment in its Amana, Iowa, refrigeration plant to drive improved productivity and efficiency.