Governor Bill Haslam traveled to New Tazewell Thursday to make a big announcement.
The governor, flanked by Claiborne County officials and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Bill Haggerty, announced England Inc., would expand and produce an extra 300 jobs for the county over the next five years.
England Inc. Senior Vice President Terry England also said the company would invest $17.5 million into the expansion. England said the money would be used for renovating plants and adding machinery.
England Inc. will open a plant that was once idled in 2007 during the build-up to the recession.
Haslam praised England Inc. for its decision to invest in rural Tennessee's future. He said that the company's announcement is proof that America is still a leading industrial power.
"People think, 'well, manufacturing doesn't happen [in America],'" Haslam said. "Well, this is an example of how that's wrong. Tennessee is still very strong in the manufacturing business."
Locals go to the Old Town Grill off Highway 25E each and every day to catch up with friends and grab a quick bite to eat. But, now, that business is hopeful even more customers will soon walk through their doors because of the England expansion.
"I think it will help with spending money, people won't be as depressed, they will want to go out to eat more," said employee Amelia Walker.
England Furniture is already one of the biggest employers in Claiborne County. More than 1,000 people work there.
Dennis Shipley, the executive vice president of the Claiborne Chamber of Commerce, said the company has been great to the community.
"We're very proud of them and they are a great partner," he said.
Shipley told 10News he believes their expansion will immediately impact the local economy.
"We all know that a dollar invested in the community will probably change hands six, seven times, so it is going to affect everybody in the county," he said.
In August, the state recorded an unemployment rate of 11.2 percent in Claiborne County. That is roughly 1,500 people.
Claiborne County resident Connie Guy said she believes England's announcements will help send the county in a positive direction.
"We don't have a lot of opportunities [for work]," she said. "People have to drive to Knoxville, Morristown, places like that."
According to England Inc., people interested in applying for a job can apply directly at England's Human Resource Department located at 995 England Industrial Road in New Tazewell Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.