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Chinese plastics company establishes U.S. headquarters in Knoxville

In an ironic twist, it seems that a China-based injection molding company is setting up a plant in Knoxville, TN. Innovate Manufacturing Inc. has announced that it will invest $4.7 million to improve a facility and add 50 jobs, as part of a strategy to produce goods closer to customers, according to Tennessee Department of Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd.

Manufacturers in the United States have long known that shipping products half-way around the world from China is expensive, time-consuming and subject to delays, such as shipping-port strikes that we recently experienced on the West Coast. It seems that the Chinese are learning that, as well.

According to the announcement, Innovate Manufacturing has four plastics factories and an engineering office in China, but the company chose to move a portion of its operations to the United States to take advantage of lower shipping and energy costs, as well as proximity to its customer base. The Knoxville plant will be the company's U.S. headquarters.

"Onshoring is gaining momentum with the reduction of cost burdens for companies manufacturing their products here in the U.S.," Boyd said in the announcement. "Tennessee is beginning to generate significant job growth from the onshoring movement. In the past 12 months, the state has added nearly 1,300 jobs from China-based projects alone. We welcome Innovate Manufacturing to Tennessee and thank the company for choosing to invest in our state and create new jobs in Knoxville," said Boyd.

Innovate Manufacturing produces hydration bottles, kitchen products, pet supplies, tools and other goods, said the announcement. The company's Knoxville facility will specialize in injection molding, injection stretch blowmolding and extrusion blowmolding. Tooling is already underway, and production will begin in late September.

"Innovate Manufacturing is delighted to locate its first facility outside of China here in Knoxville," commented John Lin, Vice President of Engineering for Innovate Manufacturing. "By locating closer to our customers, we anticipate more growth as demand for localized manufacturing continues. The central location, competitive electricity costs and business-friendly policies of East Tennessee helped us make our decision."

One thing we can be sure of is that nothing stays the same. Everything changes. What goes up must come down. What goes offshore will eventually come back onshore, as the manufacturing and economic environments shift in the various countries. We welcome the foreign direct investment in the United States, and East Tennessee appreciates the jobs.

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