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HZI USA announces 90 new high-wage jobs in expansion in West Knoxville

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs described Wednesday morning’s announcement by Hitachi Zosen Inova USA LLC (HZI USA) as not just about the 90 high-wage jobs that will be created, “which are very important,” but how it contributes to the continued growth of the region’s innovation ecosystem.

“We are making tremendous progress toward becoming an innovation hub,” he told a large crowd that filled the lobby of a building on Investment Drive where the company has relocated from a nearby facility as part of its $6.6 million total investment.

For the region, which has three accelerators that are either exclusively or somewhat focused on energy, yesterday’s announcement of the expansion that will add six-figure jobs clearly reinforces Jacobs’ point. Those programs include: (1) “Innovation Crossroads,” operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) which is the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science and energy lab; (2) “Spark Cleantech Accelerator,” operated by the Spark Innovation Center at the University of Tennessee (UT) Research Park at Cherokee Farm; and (3) “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator” that is a supported by ORNL, UT and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon, who also spoke at Wednesday’s ceremonial ribbon cutting, noted that she first met HZI USA representatives about 18 months ago, around the time the company relocated its North American hub from Georgia to Tennessee in 2020. “They told me they were bullish on Knoxville,” she said, and that feeling certainly was evident during Wednesday’s event.

As part of the incentive package, the city provided a $150,000 facilities grant.

Moderated by Knoxville Chamber Vice President Doug Lawyer, the event also featured: (1) Stuart McWhorter, Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development (pictured left); (2) Michi Kuwahara, a Managing Director at Hitachi Zosen Corporation based in Osaka, Japan (pictured right); and (3) Heath Jones, Managing Director of HZI USA.

McWhorter thanked the company for placing “your trust in our state.” Noting that the Volunteer State grew its economy by 8.6 percent last year, he added that the announcement was “a great win for the community and the State of Tennessee.”

HZI was founded in Zurich, Switzerland in 1933 and has been a part of Hitachi Zosen Corporation, one of Japan’s largest industrial and engineering firms, since 2010. The subsidiary operates in the energy sector, broadly defined, with a focus in energy from waste (EfW) and renewable gas. HZI acts as project developer, technology supplier and engineering, procurement and construction contractor delivering complete turnkey plants and system solutions for thermal and biological waste recovery.

HZI’s U.S. operations specialize in converting municipal and agriculture waste into clean, renewable electricity, natural gas and hydrogen. As a result of the expansion, Hitachi Zosen will employ nearly 12,000 worldwide.

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