MT. JULIET -- Gov. Bill Haslam made it official Thursday, confirming
in a "significant economic development announcement" at Beckwith Farms
West that the sports clothing giant Under Armour will be locating a
major new $100 million warehousing complex at the site near Mt. Juliet's
newest I-40 exit.
The announcement was "significant" indeed - it means that Under Armour will be bringing about 1,500 new jobs to Mt. Juliet and West Wilson County, according to Haslam.
"And I'll bet 1,500 won't be the end of it," the governor added. "We'll continue to see this grow, because Under Armour is a world-class brand."
Introducing Haslam was Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty, who could barely contain his excitement.
"I've been like a little kid, waiting for Christmas," he confided. "I couldn't sleep at night. I'd just lie there and stare at the ceiling, waiting for this day."
All the public officials present were dressed casually in Under Armour sportswear rather than the usual suits and ties, and Hagerty also quipped, "It's hard to keep a secret when everybody's wearing shirts made by the company you're announcing."
The 1,500 new jobs had everyone excited, but expansion was already on the minds of the officials and developers even as they announced the first phase of the new facility. Developer Whitfield Hamilton told the assembled dignitaries and news media that his company originally acquired 208 more acres connected to its industrial park, believing it would take five to seven years to develop the land. "Then we sold it all in one piece," Hamilton quipped.
Under Armour plans to build a 1 million-square-foot facility as the first phase, or about 44 acres under acres under roof and another 40 acres for parking, Hamilton said. "It's our job to be ready for the next million square feet as soon as it's needed," he added. "There's going to be a lot happening here over the next couple of weeks."
Kip Fulks, chief operating officer at Under Armour and the highest-ranking company official present, said that his company came to Mt. Juliet because it needed a place to build a new distribution center, except Under Armour doesn't use that terminology. It calls its facilities "distribution houses," and Fulks punned on the company's slogan, urging the State of Tennessee to help Under Armour to "Protect This House."
Favorable regulations, low taxes, and a great workforce helped draw Under Armour to Tennessee, said Bill Hagerty, the state's economic and community development director, but he added that the state's location is its best selling point in this age of increasing transportation and fuel costs.
"If you draw a 500-mile circle, with this point as the center, if you move it either east or west, you end up either in the ocean or the desert," Hagerty pointed out. "This is the center of the US population. Winners understand that, and Under Armour is a winner, and Tennessee is where winners ought to be."
Thursday's announcement was the culmination of months of recruitment efforts by state and local officials, who referred to the courtship of Under Armour by the code name Project Fast Break until Haslam's announcement at 1:45 p.m. Thursday, when the company joined with the governor and other dignitaries to formally break the news.
Appearing on the platform with Haslam and also speaking at the Under Armour announcement were both Bill Hagerty and Mayor Ed Hagerty, County Mayor Randall Hutto, Fulks, Hamilton, and US Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin), who joked that Under Armour casual wear "ought to be the uniform at all these kinds of events" and urged the company to not only bring its distribution houses to Tennessee, but its headquarters as well.
"In Tennessee, we say, 'Y'all come," she invited.
District 3 City Commissioner Art Giles, whose district includes the new Under Armour site, commented afterward that he's glad to see the company come not only for its employment impact, but for one more thing people may not have thought of yet.
"This will not only provide all those jobs, but it will also increase real estate values throughout Mt. Juliet," Giles pointed out. "This isn't just good for new people coming in - it's good for people who've been here all along. Everybody benefits."
Correspondent Connie Esh may be contacted at email@example.com.
About Under Armour, Inc.
Under Armour (NYSE: UA), the originator of performance footwear, apparel and equipment, revolutionized how athletes across the world dress. Designed to make all athletes better, the brand's innovative products are sold worldwide to athletes at all levels. Under Armour's wholly owned subsidiary, MapMyFitness, powers one of the world's largest Connected Fitness communities. The Under Armour global headquarters is in Baltimore, Maryland. For further information, please visit the Company's website at www.uabiz.com
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