Kingsport Times News Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Local News Business & Technology

City, state back effort to reopen glass plant

May 3rd, 2014 6:01 pm by Hank Hayes

City, state back effort to reopen glass plant

The origins of the old Blue Ridge glass plant, scheduled to be restarted by Heritage Glass in July with 120 workers, date back to the early 20th century.

KINGSPORT — Talks between the Heritage Glass ownership group and Kingsport officials about restarting the old Blue Ridge glass plant had gone on for about a year before the company announced last week it plans to start production this summer.

The Lincoln Street plant, once considered one of Kingsport's "Big Three" manufacturers, had sat idle since it was closed by AGC near the end of 2012.

But no one apparently wanted to see that facility stay dormant.

"We had been keeping the city apprised of things and then more recently they became involved," Heritage Glass Chief Executive Officer Chris Cording said of the talks. "We ran into kind of a snag when one of our investors dropped out. At that point, the city didn't want the project to fall through, and they stepped up."

The city came up with a plan to contribute $2.6 million to the Kingsport Economic Development Board (KEDB) to cover a bank loan purchasing the 34-acre former AGC production site, excluding the AGC corporate office facility and credit union operation. KEDB plans to lease the real estate back to the Heritage Glass ownership group for 15 years in amounts equal to the monthly loan payments.

The state of Tennessee also came up with $700,000 for worker retraining, while the ownership group kicked in $2 million of its own money, said Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips.

Although all the parties haven't yet finalized the deal, the glass plant is expected to restart production in July with about 120 workers.

For an expanded version of this article, please see Sunday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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