By A.J. Kaufman, Managing Editor
After a lengthy site search, a Northeast Tennessee manufacturer facing relocation found a solution that allows it to maintain its workforce and continue its steady growth for future generations.
A.Y. McDonald recently purchased a 50-acre, pad-ready site in Bristol Business Park, owned and developed by BTES. The identity of the company was made public after the purchase of the property was approved at the January City of Bristol City Council meeting. NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership staff worked with the City of Bristol, BTES, TVA and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development for more than a year prior to the approval.
A new building and land were needed due to continued growth of the Carter County facility. The company has expanded three times from its original 50,000-square-foot plant to its current 200,000-square-foot facility.
Two sites were considered in Sullivan County: the Bristol Business Park site that ultimately was chosen and a tract of unprepared land in Partnership Park II.
The new Bristol worksite will be only 15 miles away from the current plant, enabling most employees to retain a convenient commute to work.
“While neither of our counties focus our economic development strategies around companies moving from one part of our region to another, we both believe strongly that job one for us is giving our citizens the opportunity to pursue the American dream, a big part of which is a good job,” Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby and Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable said in a joint statement. “At times, for a company to grow, it might be necessary to cross county lines to find the site to fit its needs, such as the case with A.Y. McDonald. Had the BTES site in Bristol not been available and NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership, along with the City of Bristol and BTES, not worked this project with the professionalism and confidentiality it required, we would have certainly lost it to another state and more people would be either moving or looking for a new job.”
A.Y. McDonald’s relocation decision is a regional retention and expansion victory, which saves and secures the jobs of nearly 300 people employed at the Elizabethton plant.– NETWORKS CEO Clay Walker
McDonald manufactures plumbing and water works equipment and is currently located in the Watauga Industrial Park off Tennessee Highway 91. The business has enjoyed strong growth over nearly a quarter-century, almost quadrupling the size of its physical plant. A recent expansion a few years ago, the third of its kind, included an $8 million that added nearly 100,000 square feet to its plant.
“Northeast Tennessee has earned its reputation as a great place to do business and A.Y. McDonald’s near quarter century here in our region is a testament to that,” Bristol, Tenn. Mayor Vince Foster said. “Thanks to their efforts and the strategic investments, we’ve made in turnkey industrial sites alongside our state and local partners like BTES and NETWORKS, we were able to offer A.Y. McDonald the perfect place to grow here in Bristol. Anytime we are able to preserve our existing industries and the jobs they represent while also creating opportunities for new jobs and growth is a great day for Bristol, our region, and for Tennessee.”
The company first came to Elizabethton 24 years ago when Carter County developed the Watauga Industrial Park. At the time, there was substantial space in the park to meet their needs, but eventually most parcels within the park were acquired by other businesses, leaving McDonald lacking room for expansion.
As the company’s corporate headquarters are in Iowa, their decision to build a plant in Elizabethton was the first time McDonald located a facility outside the Midwest.
“A.Y. McDonald’s relocation decision is a regional retention and expansion victory, which saves and secures the jobs of nearly 300 people employed at the Elizabethton plant,” NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership CEO Clay Walker told the Business Journal. “The successful conclusion of the company’s site search was made possible by the purchase and development of industrial properties.”