David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA, was there, with a simple and apparently heartfelt message, “Thank you, Memphis, for having the NBA!” Chamber president John Moore celebrated “Memphis Soul,” Phil Trenary of Pinnacle Airlines expressed his happiness at having relocated to a new downtown headquarters, and Mayors A C Wharton and Mark Luttrell professed satisfaction with each other and with certain prospects just ahead.
One of those prospects — the relocation of vast new Electrolux plant to Memphis — was formally announced by Governor Phil Bredesen, who was introduced to the audience by Matt Kisber, who has served Bredesen as the state’s Commissioner of Economic Development.
Bredesen, who was in Memphis last week to take part in a ceremony on behalf of the Books from Birth program, and thought that might have been his last trip to the Bluff City as governor, said he welcomed the opportunity to appear in Memphis once again to bring the “good news” of the Electrolux relocation
The 700,000 square-foot plant, to be located at the Pidgeon Industrial Park on Presidents’ Island, represents a $190 million investment and will bring some 1200 jobs, in addition to supplier jobs and other ancillary benefits, said Bredesen, who noted that Electrolux already had one plant operating successfully in Tennessee, at Springfield.
Kevin Scott, the CEO of Electrolux, jokingly expressed thanks to “Al Gore, who invented the Internet,” a possible reference to the fact that news of the plant relocation had already spread across cyberspace in advance of his coming. Scott noted that Electrolux, which makes Frigidaire appliances and other products, was the “largest manufacturer of cooking goods “in North America.
He expressed gratitude to local and state governments for providing “a strong financial support package” (reportedly $20 million from both Memphis and Shelby County for infrastructure improvements, and another $92 million from the state of Tennessee).
The new plant will essentially be an upgraded version of the existing Electrolux plant at L’Assomption in the Canadian province of Quebec, where — simultaneous with the celebratory atmosphere in Memphis — area political and business figures were lamenting the loss of the facility there, which will be closed down.