Nissan third shift bringing 800+ jobs

Auto giant has added more than 2,000 positions here in 18 months [Updated with info on possible incentives]

Nissan is adding 810 jobs at its massive Smyrna plant to fill out the first-ever third shift there.

The number of new jobs was announced Friday by Gov. Bill Haslam, who was speaking at the 59th Annual Governors Conference on Economic and Community Development. Nissan officials in late August said they planned to add a third shift for the first time since the plant opened nearly three decades ago.

“Nissan has been instrumental in putting Tennessee on the map in auto manufacturing,” Haslam said. “This announcement bolsters what has been a highly successful business story in our state.”

Nissan officials said the third shift will kick off Sunday. The company has now added more than 2,000 jobs to its local manufacturing operations since the middle of 2011, lifting total employment to 6,500. The Smyrna complex now has an annual production capacity of 550,000 vehicles. It already makes the Nissan Altima, Maxima and Pathfinder models as well as the Infiniti JX. Nissan will late this year begin production of the electric Nissan LEAF as well as the batteries that power it. Starting next year, it also will produce the next-generation Nissan Rogue crossovers.

"It speaks to the value of a long-term relationship, like what we have with Nissan," Haslam said following his official address. "We're very proud of an investment like that and very grateful to Nissan for doing it.

"Obviously, we love that there's 810 new jobs starting next week. But it's even better that they're fairly high-paid manufacturing jobs and those are the jobs that we think have become part of our central focus in Tennessee. We think it's encouraging for everybody," Haslam said.

Clint Brewer, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, said state officials are still firming up details of the incentives Nissan will get.

"We have not arrived at a hard number yet," Brewer said. "Given the size of the project, it's very likely it will qualify for Fast Track funding at some level [...] There's no formal contract."

Brewer said there is no limit to how much Nissan can be reimbursed per job it creates if awarded Fast Track funding.