New jobs coming to Campbell County
A Campbell County trailer manufacturer is going to expand nearly fivefold, investing $3.7 million and hiring 148 in Jacksboro and Jellico, state and local officials announced.
BMT Manufacturing Inc. will expand its existing plant in Jacksboro, adding 48 jobs to the 31 already there. Additionally, they will also open a new operation in an existing building in Jellico, creating 100 jobs at that location, according to a news release.
The new Jellico facility is expected to be open by the end of the year.
“Our goal at BMT is not only to be a profitable business, but to train the previously incarcerated men in Campbell County with skills that will help them maintain long term employment and to help reduce the recidivism rate here in Campbell County,” BMT CEO Tony Simpson said in the announcement. “BMT works closely with A New Beginning to offer a jail-to-job training program where a skilled workforce is lacking. The program offers previously incarcerated individuals who desire to change the direction of their lives, trade-skills training and a job at BMT with the goal of securing a long-term career.”
Deputy Campbell County Mayor Andy Wallace said he believes the new jobs at BMT will start around $12 to $14 per hour.
Simpson said BMT will probably start hiring in September or October, according to Wallace. That will likely be done through the Campbell County Career Center at 1016 Main St. in Jacksboro, and the company may also take applications at its current Jacksboro location.
BMT, which stands for Better Made Trailers, makes heavy-duty truck trailers for industrial or commercial use: dump trailers, utility, equipment and motorcycle trailers, according to the company’s website. They’re sold under the BMT and Bushtec brand names.
The company has been in operation since 2016, and last year founded A New Beginning, according to the BMT website.
Jacksboro has a population of about 2,000; Jellico’s population is about 2,200, and about 40,000 people live in all of Campbell County.
Creation of 100 jobs in Jellico seemed “impossible” four years ago, Campbell County Mayor E.L. Morton said in the news release.
“BMT is an innovative new business model that is taking market share in the trailer industry through well positioned and equipped production sites and creative workforce development that is not only profitable, but it has a community service heart,” Morton said.
“It is just what Campbell County, Tennessee needs to keep local talent and return previously unemployable workers to a living wage, educational and skills growth opportunities and a bright path beyond some of Appalachia’s biggest socio-economic challenges.”
BMT hasn’t committed to hiring a specific number of former prisoners, but its program to do so is already active, Wallace said.
“In this area, we have a problem with opioids and crime,” he said. That’s no different from any other rural Tennessee community – the same hangups to hiring exist statewide, Wallace said.
“You just can’t throw the person away,” he said. “You can’t not count that person when they’re looking for a job.”
People hired through the program have mentors, must be drug-tested, and attend counseling sessions, Wallace said.
“It’s not something that they just pluck you out of jail and you get a job. There’s a commitment from the person as well,” he said.
That hiring effort may extend to people still in jail, Wallace said. Campbell County is one of only three Tennessee counties to get a Correctional Career Pathways grant, which provides training and actual jobs to current inmates, with those jobs continuing upon release, he said.
BMT will likely get state incentive funding for its announced expansion, but how much is unknown.
“We anticipate BMT Manufacturing receiving a FastTrack Grant from the department, but that contract is not executed, so that information and information regarding wages is not public knowledge at this time,” Carly Schroer, Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development public information officer, said in an email.
The city of Jellico gave BMT the building for its new operation, while Campbell County provided 7 acres of land through its industrial development board, Wallace said.
Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Jim Gaines
The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit www.eteda.org
Published July 6, 2018