November 9, 2010, BRISTOL, Tenn., (Coal Geology) – The world’s largest battery production and distribution center, located just miles from Bristol Motor Speedway, sparks green technologies and job growth in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
The 635,000 square foot Exide facility also shows what can be done through recycling, using more refined nanotech materials to increase performance, and by having the foresight to locate near a major north-south interstate crossroads that serves the East Coast and the company’s export hubs.
Exide officials point to a well-trained workforce and the region’s progressive business community as further reasons to add some 90 new jobs to Bristol’s current staff of 375.
“We’ve found a strong work ethic here, and our employees are focused on quality,” says Bristol plant manager Jim York. “We’re also impressed with healthcare in the region and with the overall quality of life here.”
Exide engineer and senior director of advanced batteries Larry Atkins says the Tennessee Economic and Community Development (ECD) department was one reason the company successfully won $34.3 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for the domestic manufacture of affordable lead-acid batteries that use advanced carbon technology.
“We’ve had lots of positive interaction with local economic development officials,” Atkins said. “And that support has included training opportunities and good input from ECD in the form of incentives and quickly coming up with estimates for our federal proposal.”
Exide holds the edge in batteries that enable stop-start features in conventional cars. Start-stop equipment shuts down engines at stop lights. That saves idling time which, in turn, can decrease gas consumption by up to eight percent. Exide’s new batteries, which are capable of powering air conditioning and other accessories even when the engine is shut off, are the main reason for expanding the Bristol workforce.
Exide’s environmental consciousness also extends to production methods. The company makes extensive use of lead and plastic from old batteries.
“Our Bristol plant is 99 percent green,” Atkins said.
Job growth and energy saving products are good news for regional economic development.
“Technologies like Exide’s and other increasingly green manufacturers are important for our region’s future,” said Mitch Miller of the non-profit Regional Alliance, which promotes sustainable economic growth throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
“We’re interested in jobs for the future, so green companies – whether they retrofit houses with new energy saving technologies, produce high tech solar glass like AGC Flat Glass, build centrifuges used to make coal cleaner and to assist in environmental cleanups like locally-based Decanter Machine, or, in the case of Exide, manufacture the next wave of smart batteries,” Miller said.
For more information about jobs, quality of life, economic development, healthcare and education in the ten-county area, visit the Regional Alliance website or contact Miller at 423-323-8102 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.