ATHENS (WATE) - Global auto parts supplier DENSO is investing an additional $55 million and adding 130 new manufacturing jobs at its facility in Athens.
The company says this is in addition to the $50 million investment and 130 jobs announced last year to localize its gasoline direct injection injectors.
DENSO Corporation, headquartered in Japan, is a leading global automotive supplier of advanced technology, systems and components in the areas of thermal, powertrain control, electronics and information and safety. Its customers include all the world's major carmakers.
DENSO already has around 1,000 people employed at its Athens plant.
Company officials say revamped government fuel standards created a bigger need for more fuel efficient vehicles, which is why the company needs more help to make high pressure fuel injectors.
"Higher injection pressure, which allows the car make in their engine designs to make advantages for their fuel economy and for their reductions in emissions," said Brian Nolen, general manager of the manufacturing for DENSO.
McMinn County Mayor John Gentry says the area was hit hard by recession, but says the DENSO expansion is a sign of good things to come.
Gentry says the county has slowly added manufacturing jobs after losing many during the recession.
"It has ripple effects throughout the community and it signifies hope, good news and builds confidence," Gentry said.
Jim Carr owns a restaurant in downtown Athens that often caters to DENSO workers. While he says business is great, his neighbors aren't doing so well.
"In the old part of the Athens there's been a lot of restaurant closing and businesses closing, but on the other side where the McDonalds is, the Walmart is, near DENSO, seems to be doing well," said Carr.
Others we spoke with believe the greater Athens area is still hurting.
"More jobs should make things better, but like every town you go through, you see businesses closed and buildings boarded up," said Tony Hixson, a Decatur resident.
DENSO company officials say they've made most of the hiring decisions for the first phase of the new jobs.
However, as part of the latest announcement, the company is hiring for manufacturing jobs, as well as looking for engineers, production and maintenance workers, along with human resource personnel and accountants.
DENSO expects the second phase of production to start in early 2015.
The company does expect demand for the direct injection injectors to stay high, and anticipates hiring more workers in the coming years.
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