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Governor Haslam, Commissioner Rolfe and DENSO Announce $190 Million Expansion in Athens

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 | 06:59am

Global automotive supplier to create 320 jobs in McMinn County

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and officials from DENSO announced today that the global automotive supplier will expand its operations in Athens. 

DENSO will create 320 jobs and invest $190 million in its McMinn County facility. 

“DENSO is one of Tennessee’s largest employers and has been a valuable part of our state for 30 years,” Haslam said. “The expansion in Athens demonstrates the confidence that employers have in our workforce and economy. DENSO’s continued investment in our state provides one more example of how Tennessee will lead in the creation of high quality jobs.”

“For years, DENSO has been the linchpin of McMinn County’s economy and today the company employs approximately 1,375 people, more than any business in the county,” Rolfe said. “The new investment and job creation from DENSO in Athens underscore the robust business environment that Tennessee offers global automotive companies. I want to thank DENSO for its continued commitment to Tennessee and the major impact these new jobs will have for the residents of McMinn County.”

DENSO’s investment will add four production lines in Athens, increasing the company’s ability to produce and deliver key parts for automakers across North America. DENSO’s Athens facility manufactures fuel injectors, fuel pumps, oxygen sensors, ignition coils, monolithic carriers and spark plugs.

This is the latest in a series of strategic investments by DENSO in North America and part of the company’s commitment to make Tennessee a primary manufacturing center. In 2017, DENSO announced a $1 billion investment in its Maryville facility, creating 1,000 jobs focused on electrification and safety systems.

“Increasing our capacity to manufacture products closer to customers in North America will continue to power DENSO’s growth in the region,” Hugh Cantrell, director of Administrative Services for DENSO Manufacturing Athens Tennessee, said. “This investment strengthens one of our key production centers. Athens has played a major role producing and supplying our customers with key components in fuel delivery, ignition, and exhaust gas systems.”

With its global headquarters in Japan, DENSO has had a presence in Tennessee for three decades. The company has three locations in the state – Maryville, Athens and Jackson – and employs roughly 4,500 people in Tennessee. The Athens investment will create 320 jobs across production, facility operations, engineering, administration and other skilled-traded positions. DENSO will introduce a new Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) production line, one low-pressure fuel pump line and two high-pressure fuel pump lines.

Prior to today’s expansion, DENSO has invested approximately $3 billion in Tennessee. Japan is the leading source of foreign direct investment in Tennessee over the last 30 years. In total, Japanese businesses have investment more than $19 billion in Tennessee and employ more than 51,000 in the state. 

Local officials and the Tennessee Valley Authority thanked DENSO for its investment and the creation of jobs in Athens.

"McMinn County is extremely proud of the fact that DENSO in Athens continues to thrive,” McMinn County Mayor John M. Gentry said. “The faith DENSO exhibits in this community is incredibly humbling. This expansion will improve the quality of life for several hundred McMinn County families. The positive effects will have a resounding and lasting impact on the local economy." 

“The City of Athens is focused on expanding economic opportunities for our citizens that in turn build long lasting and substantial prosperity for the betterment of our entire community,” City of Athens Mayor Chuck Burris said. “Today's announcement by DENSO exemplifies the success of our development strategies to help existing Athens companies grow here. DENSO has long been a standard bearer for corporate citizenry in Athens, and with this expansion, our growing partnership will create a greater quality of life for our most important asset, our people.” 

“TVA and Athens Utilities Board are excited to congratulate DENSO on its latest announcement to expand operations,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “Helping to attract and retain quality jobs is fundamental to TVA’s mission of service, and we are proud to partner with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and McMinn County Economic Development Authority to help facilitate impactful new job creation by Denso, one of our region’s major employers.”

Those interested in a career at DENSO in Athens can apply here.

Athens and McMinn County are represented in the Tennessee General Assembly by Sen. Mike Bell (R – Riceville) and Rep. John Forgety (R – Athens). 

About DENSO in North America
DENSO is a leading global automotive supplier of advanced technology, systems and components in the areas of thermal, powertrain control, electronics and information and safety. With its North American headquarters located in Southfield, Michigan, DENSO employs more than 23,000 people at 28 consolidated subsidiaries and 4 affiliates across the North American region. Of these, 25 are manufacturing facilities located in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In the United States alone, DENSO employs more than 17,000 people in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. DENSO’s North American consolidated sales totaled US$9.6 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017. For more information, go to Connect with DENSO on Facebook at

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies that help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. To grow and strengthen Team Tennessee, the department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Find us on the web: Follow us on Twitter: @tnecd. Like us on Facebook: