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Belgium-based bus company building Morristown factory

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WATE) - A Belgium-based bus manufacturer is set to build a bus factory in Morristown. It was announced on Thursday.

The factory, operated by Van Hool NV, will be up and running in early 2020 and will bring 600 jobs to East Tennessee. The 500,000-square-foot factory will manufacture around 400 buses and commuter coaches each year.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was in Morristown for Thursday's announcement. 

“Van Hool’s decision to establish its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Morristown and create more than 600 jobs underscores the robust pro-growth environment of job creation we’ve fostered in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “Tennessee is a leading destination for foreign direct investment and because of global businesses like Van Hool, Tennessee will lead the nation in high quality jobs opportunities.”

At the new plant, Van Hool will manufacture public transit and commuter vehicles for U.S. transit agencies. Construction of the facility will begin later this year. Van Hool anticipates the facility will be operational in the first quarter of 2020. 

Van Hool's CEO said the "Buy America Act" prompted the company to explore a new manufacturing facility in the United States. 

“We’re excited to announce the next step of the global growth plans of the Van Hool Group here in Morristown, Hamblen County, Tennessee,” Van Hool CEO Filip Van Hool said. “The investment of more than $47 million reaffirms the more than 30-year presence of Van Hool in the U.S. market. Since 1987, we have supplied more than 10,000 vehicles in North America. Today, we’re really looking forward to building a state-of the-art bus factory in Morristown to supply the entire North American market with high quality buses and commuter coaches for transit agencies from 2020 onwards.

Local officials and the Tennessee Valley Authority praised Van Hool for its investment in Morristown. 

“This is a special day for Morristown, Hamblen County and the surrounding eight-county region where Van Hool will have a major impact,” Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney said. “Van Hool’s selection of Morristown’s East Tennessee Progress Center as the site to grow its business represents a wonderful vote of confidence in Morristown.”

“This is great news for the entire Lakeway area,” Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain said. “Van Hool will employ residents from throughout the region and will be an active part of the community. Congratulations to Van Hool for a great decision and to the state and local economic development partnership for presenting the advantages of doing business in Morristown and Hamblen County."

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