Covington plant expansion set to bring nearly 300 new jobs - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Covington plant expansion set to bring nearly 300 new jobs

By Justin Hanson - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

COVINGTON, TN (WMC-TV) - Tough economic times have hit the county seat of Tipton County hard.  In the past six months, over six hundred Covington residents have lost their jobs due to layoffs or plant closures.

"Our customers have less in their pockets so they're struggling to find ways to purchase products," Covington business owner Judson Naifeh said in an interview Wednesday.

But soon, residents' purchasing power could be going back up.  Nearly 300 are coming back to Covington and the surrounding area because of an expansion at the Unilever plant.

"As its described by the vice presidents of ice cream operations, it's the biggest re-organization that's ever occurred in the Unilever company," Covington Mayor David Gordon said.

Within the next year, Unilever, the maker of Slim-Fast, will add ice cream and other frozen novelties to its product line.  Officials say Unilever brands like Breyers, Popsicle, and Good Humor may soon be make in Covington.

"It is hundred million dollar investment in building and equipment," Gordon said.

Construction on the Unilever addition is set to begin in early 2010.  For business owners like Naifeh, the expansion is welcome news.

"Tipton County has done a good job trying to keep things here and rebuilding anything we've lost," Naifeh said.

"It's been tough for a lot of people, and we're happy this is good news to give them," Gordon added.

City officials hope the job expansion doesn't stop at Unilever.  They hope many of their now vacant factories will once again be filled with residents who are still waiting to go to work.

Company officials say Unilever's new ice cream products should start hitting the production line at the end of next year.

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