Tennessee, Nissan to cooperate on worker education

Friday, November 9, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Nissan North America and Tennessee officials are negotiating toward a worker training center in Smyrna, Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday in Lewisburg.

Nissan is to provide land for a state school to train Tennesseans to work in the Japanese-owned factory, Haslam said, confirming information received here before this week's election.

"We're working on a deal," the governor said. "We'll have one of our technology centers, instead of being at a separate location, it would actually be on their campus.

"The neat thing about this is that it is something we do for Volkswagen in Chattanooga" with Chattanooga State Community College, Haslam said.

"With this it would train workers from Nissan and maybe workers from the outside as well," the governor said. "We haven't put the finishing touches on that yet."

As for whether an agreement on a state-built training center would be reached by the end of this year, Haslam said, "I would hope so."

Asked if it would be signed by mid-February, the governor replied, "I'll have to be updated on it. I don't know, but I would think that's realistic."

Calsonic Kansei North America has plants in Lewisburg and Shelbyville. One of the plants here is to produce a critical part for the Nissan Leaf, an all-electric car that will be built in Smyrna.

Nissan has three production plants in the United States - in Smyrna and Decherd, and in Canton, Miss. Production at Nissan's Smyrna plant began in June 1983. The vehicle assembly plant has an annual production capacity of 550,000 vehicles and represents a capital investment of $2.5 billion, Nissan's website states. The plant produces the Nissan Altima, Nissan Maxima, Nissan Xterra, Nissan Frontier and Nissan Pathfinder, and Infiniti JX.