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Hummer scouts Williamson County for HQs

July 10, 2009

Hummer scouts Williamson County for HQs

Both sides say talks are only preliminary

By Kevin Walters

FRANKLIN — Hummer, the sport utility vehicle manufacturer in the process of being spun off by General Motors, has had early discussions with Williamson County officials about relocating the company’s headquarters here, officials said.

In late June, Hummer Chief Executive Officer Jim Taylor said in an interview the company was examining the areas around Detroit as well as Nashville for the possible site of its new corporate headquarters.

Nick Richards, Hummer spokesman, confirmed this week that the automaker has had preliminary discussions with Williamson County economic development officials.

"We’ve had some initial discussion with folks in Williamson County but it’s too early to say what our plans are," Richards said. "Right now we’re looking at all viable options for the future Hummer headquarters."

Matt Largen, county economic development director, confirmed the recent discussions though he declined to provide details.

Chinese manufacturer Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. is slated to buy the General Motors unit in a deal some expected to be finalized later this year. That deal still needs a final sign-off from the Chinese government and recent reports say China’s state planning agency might reject the deal because Hummer doesn’t fit Beijing’s gas-conservation goals for vehicles.

Moving away from GM means Hummer must find separate corporate offices.

Known for their big tires and styling based on military vehicles, Hummer has seen a steep slump in sales as gas prices have risen.

Richards said the company is looking at a number of options for its new home. Williamson County might present an attractive new home with automaker Nissan based in Franklin while Spring Hill has a GM automotive manufacturing plant.

"There’s kind of a growing automotive base there," Richards said. "So we’re looking at a lot of regions around the country where automotive manufacturers have tended to congregate."

Part of the company’s decision will come down to the incentive package that various states can offer to Hummer, which employs about 100 employees in its headquarters operation, Richards said.

"Right now we’re looking to find out what’s available from different states and different agencies," Richards said. "We’re kind of putting that together with what makes the best business case for the brand. . . . We will need to relocate those employees if we move out of the state."

Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson said he had not heard any news from Largen about a possible relocation while Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey said the company has not contacted anyone with the city.

"Franklin certainly is an attractive location for businesses and we would welcome another corporate headquarters to the community," Stuckey said in a prepared statement. "We have not heard any specifics from the company or state officials on this specific opportunity."


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