KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty officially announced Leisure Pools will open a new facility in Knox County, meaning a $6.2 million investment and the creation of 240 new jobs.
The facility will be the first for Leisure Pools in Tennessee and will service increased demand along the east coast.
"I want to thank Leisure Pools for their significant investment and the valuable jobs this new facility will bring to Knox County and Tennessee," Haslam said. "Leisure Pools' decision to open a new facility and make it its North American corporate headquarters underlines Tennessee's manufacturing strength and reinforces our goal of becoming the number one location in the southeast for high quality jobs."
Leisure Pools is purchasing the former Sea Ray Island Plant at Forks of the River Industrial Park.
Knoxville Chamber CEO Mike Edwards said Sea Ray's facilities had components to produce fiberglass material, similar to what Leisure Pools was looking for.
"A specialized building, if Leisure Pools tried to replicate, it would cost more than they can afford. We had it sitting there," said Edwards.
The facility will also become the corporate headquarters for Leisure Pools.
Leisure Pools is due to close on the Knoxville property this year and the company is currently in the hiring process
Leaders say the company chose Knoxville in-part because of the highly-skilled workforce that many of the former Sea Ray workers offer.
This is an opportunity for them to get back into the market where they have skills in a very unique area," said Edwards.
John Houser worked for Sea Ray for 33 years before being laid off last December.
Since then, he's had no luck finding work and his severance pay will run out in a little more than a month.
"I look for jobs every week and do the job searches, but without a college degree, it's very tough," said Houser.
Houser says he's ecstatic that Leisure Pools will be moving into the same place where he says he learned many of the skills he would like to apply to the new company.
"I'd love to get on the ground floor when they first start. It makes a big difference," said Houser.
Sea Ray's 85 employees in executive staff, sales, marketing, accounting and purchasing will be making the move from the Forks of the River facility (Sea Ray Island) to the First Tennessee building by January.
An additional 360 employees work at the company's facility in Tellico, where Sea Ray consolidated the day boat production earlier this year.
Sea Ray's engineering offices and cruiser and yacht production are based in Florida.
Leisure Pools is looking to hire people with skills in fiberglass composite manufacturing, transport, accounting, sales, marketing and administration.