FRIENDSHIP, Tenn., Jul 20, 2012 -- For some small communities the loss of a major manufacturing facility can be devastating. In 1993 when the Tupperware Corporation closed its West Tennessee plant that devastation loomed on the horizon. Undeterred, a group of 14 employees believed there was still a viable market for American-made molded plastics and began the search for a new location to begin their own plastics manufacturing company.
"We were a manufacturing group in search of a location and Friendship was a town in search of manufacturing," said Wanda Rea, Advantage Manufacturing Inc., President. "We planted our roots in Friendship and 19 years later, we’re still growing."
USDA Rural Development (RD) State Director Bobby Goode and Gibson Electric Membership Corporation (Gibson EMC) President Dan Rodamaker were joined by other local leaders today to announce federal funding for the expansion of Advantage Manufacturing’s operations.
"We’re here to celebrate a success story today," said Rodamaker. "When the Halls Tupperware plant closed, a group of employees decided to invest their time and money to start their own company. Gibson EMC and Rural Development have been partners with them since the beginning and will continue to partner with them into the future."
The $1,000,000 Rural Economic Development Loan will be used by Gibson EMC to provide a zero-interest loan to Advantage allowing the company to grow its medical-grade plastics injection and blow molding operations and begin a food-grade plastics injection molding operation.
"Small business is the economic engine of rural communities, creating jobs and helping maintain a healthy, diversified local economy," said Goode. "By partnering with Gibson Electric we are able to provide the tools to build a healthy, diversified local economy that will benefit West Tennessee for generations."
Others participating in the event included Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Representative Matt Varino, Sen. Bob Corker’s Representative Jennifer Weems, Rep. Stephen Fincher’s Representative Scott Golden, State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, Crockett County Mayor Gary Reasons, Friendship Mayor Casey Burnett, Northwest Tennessee Development District Executive Director John Bucy and Ken Thorne, Gibson EMC Board Chairman Mack Goode and Board Members Bob McCurdy, Rana Buchanan, Larry Hicks, Joan Mouser and Tony Bargery, Tennessee Economic and Community Development members Blake Swaggart and Janna Hellums, RD Business Programs Director Dan Beasley, Union City Area Director Harriet Cannon, Area Specialist Van Wylie, RD Business Programs Loan Specialist Penny Cliburn and Energy Programs Specialist Will Dodson.
Rural Development's rural economic development loan and grant program provides funding to local electric cooperatives to be invested in business development within their service area. The program promotes a healthy economic environment and supports the creation and retention of good private-sector jobs in rural communities.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, community development, homeownership and affordable rental housing to improve the economic health of rural communities. During the last three years the agency has assisted at least 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 158 communities, investing more than $2.5 Billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in northwest Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Union City at 731-885-6480 ext. 4, toll free at 800-342-3149 ext. 1497 or visit us online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights,
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272