In the News – Wonder Porcelain moves to Wilson
An international ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday marked the beginning of a highly anticipated relationship between several parties and investment in Wilson County.
China-based textile company Wonder Group senior executives, U.S. and Tennessee officials, along with Wilson County and Lebanon representatives, celebrated the country’s first investment in Tennessee as American Wonder Porcelain is expected to begin production next month.
The $150 million facility is expected to bring 200 jobs to Wilson County. The 500,000-square feet plant will feature state-of-the-art equipment to help push the textile industry forward in the United States.
“Tennessee has become a hub of activity for domestic production for ceramic tile,” said Michael Kephart, Wonder Porcelain Group president and CEO.
Kephart thanked all parties involved in the process of bringing the textile giant to Wilson County, including Gov. Bill Haslam, former economic development commissioner Randy Boyd and Wilson County and Lebanon officials.
“I can’t imagine a state being more accommodating for business, even with the challenges of an international dynamic added in. I can’t imagine better cooperation than what we’ve received from the state, county and city,” Kephart said.
Bob Rolfe, Tennessee economic development commissioner, spoke on behalf of Haslam and the group’s efforts.
“What we’re excited about is our Chinese friendship, partnership and relationship. This is the largest investment in our state from our foreign direct investment partner China, so we are so grateful for that,” Rolfe said.
Jianping Huang, founder and owner of the Wonderful Group, said he believed the facility would allow the group to climb higher in the textile industry.
“Our U.S. management team has the experience and passion to successfully grow our business and our people to higher limits,” said Huang, who thanked current U.S. customers.
“We are committed to expand and grow quickly with support from the market. We are committed to bring innovation in products and process to support future growth in the U.S. textile industry. Thank you Lebanon and Tennessee,” he said.
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said the investment could have bigger payoffs for the area.
“I think it’s exciting that when China decides to come to America, they come to Tennessee. I think that’s big, but it’s even larger for them to come to Wilson County,” Hutto said.
“The location of it is great because it’s between two of our major cities – Mt. Juliet and Lebanon – so it feels a gap there and works as a hub for everything else to grow around this area,” he said.
Hutto said he was excited to learn the U.S. makes about 30 percent of tile made in the world, with about 70 percent of that 30 percent coming from Tennessee.
“We really become a tile hub and who knows what else that may bring to the area,” Hutto said.
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