Hint: It’s not steel or aluminum.
If you answered zinc, specifically Tennessee zinc, you are correct.
At this week’s groundbreaking for the almost $30 million project, zinc was in the limelight.
The project is set to be completed in time for use by the spring semester of 2020.
Interim Northeast President James King said he asked Tom Wennogle, president of Jarden Zinc, to speak at the groundbreaking because his company provided product for a zinc shell on the building at a lower price than for other metals.
Wennogle said that was a way to promote the zinc industry in Tennessee — where the metal is mined in Strawberry Plains near Knoxville, processed in Clarksville and fabricated in Jarden’s Greeneville operation, which also provides more than 70 million pounds a year of copper-zinc slugs used by the U.S. Mint to make pennies.
However, Wennogle said zinc helps Tennessee companies and individuals make money in much larger increments.
“This (zinc industry) helps us to create jobs and most importantly keeps skilled trained labor in our area,” Wennogle said.
He said zinc has been used in Europe for centuries, is aesthetic, “will endure forever” and is 100 percent recyclable. Wennogle’s business also partners with Northeast for an apprenticeship program he said is vital to his company.