Mexican-owned plastics company to open first U.S. operation in Erwin

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PlastiExports of Apodaca, Mexico will open its first U.S. operation in Erwin, Tenn.

ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – A plastic injection molding company based in Mexico expects to create 115 jobs by 2025 at the former Regal Beloit factory in Erwin, officials announced Monday.

PlastiExports will invest nearly $7 million in the facility, which was home to Morrill Motors. Morrill owner Regal Beloit announced last September it would close this year, leaving 125 people jobless.

County Mayor: Morrill Motors in Erwin to close within next 12 months

A news release from Unicoi County’s Joint Economic and Community Development Board said the investment from the Apodaca, Nuevo Leon-based company was the largest industrial investment to come to the county in recent years.

PlastiExports has created a subsidiary, PlastiExports TN LLC, as a subsidiary. The Erwin plant will be the first U.S. location for the company.

In a phone interview, JCEDB Executive Director Tyler Engle said the announcement was “great news among a lot of bad economic news.”

Engle said PlastiExports is opening without any local economic development incentives. He said the company’s plans to begin making the investment and working toward opening are “imminent.”

JECDB Chairman Lee Brown called it a great outcome after last year’s news that Morrill Motors would close.

“What began as devastating news has turned into an amazing story for manufacturing here in Unicoi County,” Brown said in the news release. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to work with PlastiExports and look forward to helping them have a bright future.”

J.P. Metcalf, Morrill’s former manager, was named as PlastiExports LLC “business leader” in the news release. “We are excited for both our employees and our community,” Metcalf said in the release. “PlastiExports is a leader in the plastics industry and has a robust plan to grow the business further.”

Engle said the investment may provide opportunity for Morrill employees.

“There are still people working in the building and the hope is that they’ll be able to continue working there.”

Erwin already has one longstanding plastic injection molding business, Impact Plastics. “We’re just really appreciative to build that sector,” Engle said. “It really builds our sector strategy.”

The deal was brokered despite difficulties caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Partnering with the JCEDB were the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership (NETREP), TVA, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and the Northeast Tennessee Valley Regional Industrial Development Association.

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