Franklin County Students “N” Industries

Franklin County, Tennessee
Franklin Co Mfg Week Student N Industires decherd mfg day_7508

Franklin County is located along I-24 in Middle Tennessee’s Southern Automotive Corridor with three auto assembly plants and three engine plants located within a 50-mile radius. The county is also home to other diverse manufacturing companies. Since the 1990’s, the county has seen unprecedented growth and development with the location of Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation (NMMC) engine production facilities in Decherd. This major industry has brought new residents and the promise of additional future investments by NMMC along with the need for a workforce talent pipeline for Nissan and all of Franklin County’s manufacturing operations.  

In 1993, NMMC began construction of Phase I of the Nissan Decherd Powertrain Manufacturing facility and opened the plant in 1997 with 2,500 employees. In 2014, NMMC began construction of the Phase II Infiniti powertrain manufacturing facility adjacent to the existing plant that was projected to bring an additional $190,970,000 in private investments by the company and create an additional 450 production jobs and 50 administrative jobs. In 2017, Decherd and Franklin County officials began work with NMMC to prepare for Phase III that will include the addition of three production lines and bring 400 more jobs to the facility.

As one Tennessee’s largest employers in the automotive sector and an instrumental contributor to economic development in the state and region, it has been imperative that adequate current and future workforce be available to accommodate NMMC expansion needs. Since the 1990’s, leaders from the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Franklin County Schools, TNECD, and multiple state government and higher education institutions have successfully partnered to invest in workforce development services to position the county for current needs and future opportunities. The preparation of a young talent pipeline has been central to these local efforts.

Franklin County Partners in Education and Manufacturer’s Week

As their industrial employment base grew, Franklin County economic development and Board of Education leaders wanted their local youth to be fully prepared to benefit from future employment opportunities. In April of 1991, they took action: The Franklin County Partners in Education initiative was created with the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and Board of Education. The program is designed to create a family of partners from business, civic, and religious organizations and each school to foster better understanding of the educational system and establish relationships between community partners and schools that create a spirit of involvement and pride in local public education.   

In 2016, Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Roundtable leaders saw the opportunity to utilize the county’s TNECD ThreeStar grant to host a business and education partnership project to connect Franklin County and Huntland High School students with manufacturing leaders to learn about manufacturing career pathways in the community. Manufacturing Week encourages young Tennesseans to consider getting the post-secondary credentials that are needed to pursue a career in manufacturing by touring manufacturing plants, hearing from companies and employees, and receiving hands-on learning experiences highlighting the types of highly-skilled jobs available. Franklin County Manufacturers Week events are held in conjunction with National Manufacturing Day celebrated on the first Friday in October.

Students “N” Industries Day

On October 6, 2016 the first Franklin County Students “N” Industries Day was held and all Franklin County High School juniors saw current and future manufacturing employment opportunities. The event was designed to celebrate modern manufacturing in ways that inspire the next generation of manufacturers. Employers hosted high school juniors in their facilities to show them what manufacturing is and what it isn’t. By jointly organizing the event, company leaders worked together to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, and take charge of the public image of manufacturing to ensure the ongoing prosperity of the industry.

The event offered 2- to 6-hour sessions for students to learn about different career options at Nissan-Infiniti and the other participating employers and the skills required for each. During lunch students interacted with high-level company representatives to learn more about possible careers. In addition to the on-site activities, participating students submitted essays documenting their experience and career ambitions, and $500 scholarships were awarded to the winning submissions. A survey was also completed by the students that confirmed that the creation of new industry contacts and visibility to local career opportunities were the main takeaways from the experience. Students also enjoyed seeing real world work places and actual job activities. Everyone liked the tours and being able to interact with company officials. Several students expressed the need to learn more about resume writing, and the overwhelming majority found it very helpful in planning their career steps after high school graduation.

Community Impact

TNECD ThreeStar grant funding and community sponsorships supported a special day for Franklin County students to learn about future opportunities in the local industries, skills needed and opportunities to stay in their home county. Participants also made important industry contacts and gained visibility with manufacturing industry decision makers. Results include

High School Juniors Participating  416
Manufacturing and Higher Education Hosts 12
Education and Workforce Organizations Engaged 3
Economic Development Organizations Engaged 3
Educators Engaged  24
Manufacturing Professionals Engaged  35
Student Essays Completed 133
Scholarships Awarded for Winning Essays 7

Project Funding

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce In-Kind Contributions (Coordinating Staff Time)  (In-Kind)  
2016 TNECD ThreeStar Grant (Program Expenses) $10,000  
Local Corporate Cash Contributions (Lunch and Event Expenses) $218  

Program Leadership and Partners

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce – Executive Director – Program Contact
Franklin County Board of Education
Franklin County High School
Huntland High School
Franklin County Mayor’s Office and Joint Economic Community Development Board
City of Decherd Fire Department
Nissan North America Infiniti Plant 1
Nissan North America Engine Plant 2
Zanini Tennessee, Inc.
Thompson Appalachian Hardwood Floors
CST Storage Inc.
S.E. Inc & Baxter Enterprises
National Aerospace Solutions
Hi-Tech Mold & Engineering
National Aerospace Solutions                                       
Woodall Grain Company
Motlow State Community College
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

For more information contact the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.

TNECD ThreeStar Program

The ThreeStar Program is designed to focus on the Governor’s Five Pillars of Jobs & Economic Development, Fiscal Strength & Efficient Government, Public Safety, Education & Workforce Development, and Health & Welfare, all identified as critical to ensuring the success of Tennessee communities. TNECD ThreeStar grants help communities increase their economic and community development impact.   

For more information visit TNECD Community and Rural Development.