Want a recipe for success in economic development or, for that matter, anything in life that requires solid relationships which is actually pretty much everything in a successful life?
Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell provided the answer with a few simple but powerful reminders on Friday morning when DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee Inc. celebrated the grand opening of its new North America Central Region Technical Training Center in Maryville.
Those words were “respect,” “integrity,” and “honesty.”
Mitchell was Fire Marshall for the City of Maryville when the first group of DENSO executives visited the community 30 years ago to consider building a plant in my hometown. Today, the global automotive supplier employs 5,000 people including 1,000 new jobs that were created after the latest $1 billion investment.
Noting that all of the conversations at that time and through subsequent expansions by DENSO have embraced those key principles, Mitchell simply said, “This is the benefit of that (approach).” He emphasized that the two cities – Alcoa and Maryville – and the county government have continued to work collaboratively with DENSO through the years, something about which the community should be proud and that is also a model for the nation.
Mitchell took time to credit the important role that past local leaders, including retired Maryville City Manager Gary Hensley and the late Maryville Mayor Stanley “Skeeter” Shields, played in the recruitment of DENSO along with Blount County native Allen Borden, current Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) and at the time a top executive with the Blount County Chamber of Commerce.
A number of DENSO executives from Japan and the U.S. attended the ribbon cutting. At the event where Bob Booker, DENSO Senior Manager, presided, other speakers included Kenichiro “Ken” Ito, President and Chief Executive Officer of DENSO’s North American headquarters and Senior Executive Officer of DENSO Corporation, and ECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe.
“Our state is judged by the brands that call Tennessee home,” Rolfe said as he praised DENSO for its continuing investment in the Volunteer State. “Our responsibility (at ECD) is to create a great work and business environment.”
You can read DENSO’s news release about the event here.
Pictured below at the ribbon cutting are Mitchell (white hair and beard), Rolfe and Ito respectively along with other dignitaries.