August 21, 2019. More than 200 new jobs paying an average hourly wage of $27.17.
That’s what Johnson City, Tennessee expects out of an incentive package the city’s commissioners authorized Tuesday morning for skin-care company Crown Laboratories.
“This is absolutely a great day for economic development in Johnson City,” said City Manager Pete Peterson. During a special called meeting, commissioners gave the city’s Industrial Development Board, a body of appointed members that works to further local economic development, permission to award a $450,000 “jobs-creation grant” to Crown Labs and create a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, agreement at the company’s future corporate headquarters, 207 Mockingbird Lane.
The 216 new jobs would be in addition to the 175 jobs Crown Labs currently has in Johnson City. The company is planning a $27 million local investment, which includes expanding its manufacturing capacity at 349 Lafe Cox Drive.
“This is a very, very important project for the city and all of us who live here,” Peterson said, also calling the company a “proven, wonderful corporate citizen.”
The building on Mockingbird Lane was previously occupied by NN Inc., a global manufacturer of ball bearings.
NN recently vacated the building, which also had been the Hamilton Bank and later SunTrust Bank headquarters. SunTrust Bank will continue to lease space in the building.
Looking at the skin care company’s recent acquisitions, many of which they’re planning to bring to Johnson City, Mitch Miller, the CEO of the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership, said Crown Labs is experiencing a period of high growth.
“I’m confident that (Crown Labs President and CEO Jeff Bedard is) going to do everything he can and will do a great job, especially filling in those jobs for that building,” Miller said.
Each year, the company will provide reports on the progress of its performance goals. Miller said the city attorney, Washington County attorney and industrial development board attorney will evaluate those reports.
“Looking at annual reporting and making sure where we are and getting adequate updates to elected officials,” Miller said. “To me that’s the most important thing.”
Bedard said 207 Mockingbird Lane was an appealing location because it allowed the company to house its corporate employees under one roof. Crown Labs will occupy the terrace and second and third floors of the building.
The renovations will occur on the fourth floor of the building, which will be “gutted to the studs and then rebuilt” to act as space for other tenants. Bedard said the company will also do some “light remodeling work” in the terrace and the second floor.
Crown Labs also plans to conduct a 100,000-square-foot expansion of its existing building at 349 Lafe Cox Drive, which will involve upgrades and expansions to the company’s manufacturing and distribution system. Bedard said that will likely start in about three years.
Bedard said the expansion became necessary in part because of the company’s acquisition of product lines from pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in the last 12 months.
Right now, Bedard said the company produces those items at contract manufacturing organizations, but he said Crown Labs wants to bring that manufacturing to Johnson City.
“Because … we’ve kind of grown up here, our commitment to the community, we’re really pleased that the local commission has stepped up and decided to be part of our growth,” he said.
Bedard said there were some offers on the table to move the corporate headquarters to other locations, but the company decided that Johnson City was the best place.
Mayor Jenny Brock said during the meeting Tuesday that Bedard “took a risk on Johnson City,” having moved his business to the area in 2000 from San Diego.
“We’ve watched him grow, we’ve watched him weather the storms of the economy,” she said, “but he’s always kept his word and his promise that Crown Laboratories was going to stay in Johnson City, Tennessee and grow.”