$95M project pours money into local economy
By MARK MCGEE
Construction at the Duksan Electera plant is expected to be completed in May with production to start in June, but the local impact on the economy of Bedford County on several levels has been felt since the first shovel of dirt on the site.
Whether it be meals at local restaurants or steel for the facility, the construction team has made every effort to use local suppliers with much of the $95 million project cost staying in Bedford County.
Leading the tour were Eric Gass, senior project manager for Turner Construction Company; Paul S. Jo, construction manager for DS Electera; Jungwi Ryu, vice-president of the management support team for DS Electera; and project superintendent Clay Aldridge. Also in attendance were Shane Hooper, president/CEO of the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership; Kelly North, director of existing business development for the partnership; Beth Davis, director of external affairs for the partnership; and Bedford County Mayor Chad Graham and his uncle Jay Graham.
The tour included an overview of the entire facility. The storefront for the office portion is expected to be ready sometime this month.
Aldridge, who guided the tour, pointed out the progress of the construction which is expected to be completed by summer of 2024. The tour started with Turner’s emphasis on safety on a project with nearly 200,000 man-hours without injury.
Gass, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, with a B.S. in civil engineering, brings extensive skills and experience to the Duksan project.
In recognizing the importance of local support, Aldridge noted the efforts of Turner in that area. Steel for the project is from Cooper Steel, paving has been provided by Wright Paving, and concrete is supplied by JAY-TON Concrete Construction. A local dumpster company and a local portable toilet company are also being used.
“We keep a lot of local companies busy,” Aldridge said. “There are 800 tons of steel, 6,000 yards of concrete, 20,000 feet of underground utilities, and about 140 miles of wire in the building. We even sourced rock from a local quarry. Many local workers are involved in the construction of this project.”
Aldridge added the ability to obtain steel, concrete, gravel and asphalt locally “is really powerful.”
Both Gass and Aldridge stressed how much Turner is pleased with the warm reception the team, trade partners, Duksan, and the project have received overall locally as a result of making an impact on the local business community.
“Turner’s Middle Tennessee office is managed locally, but we are blessed to be part of a large national firm,” Gass said. “This provides us access to suppliers and trade partners across the country. However, for the Duksan Electera project, we made it a priority to use as many local suppliers and trade partners as possible to have a positive impact on Bedford County’s workers and the local economy.”
“We have a lot of materials procured here locally. We want to continue to foster that. We want to stay as local as possible.”
In a trickle-down effect on impact from a local standpoint restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses benefit.
“We have taken over the local restaurants at times,” Gass said. “As a team, we always try to support local restaurants like La Hacienda, Legends, and Humble Baron by enjoying their great food and service whenever we get a chance. These small acts can make a big impact on local businesses, even if they don’t seem directly related to construction. We have found that we can make a huge difference in our community by supporting local small businesses.”
Hooper pointed to the importance of Duksan as a major player in helping to raise the quality of wages in Bedford County.
“Duksan’s median wage is higher than our current manufacturing median wage,” Hooper said. “Recruiting higher wages is not just an economic goal but a commitment to ensuring that the rising tide lifts all boats, fostering prosperity and shared success throughout our community.
“Turner and Duksan’s commitment to utilizing local contractors is more than just a business decision; it’s a cornerstone of community strength. The ripple effect of additional construction jobs and increased revenue for local contractors and suppliers is instrumental in fortifying our community’s economic resilience.”
The Duksan Group is based in South Korea. Ryu said it was important for Duksan to also use local suppliers for the facility which will hire more than 100 employees within the next five years.
“We are pleased with this location and the future,” Ryu said. “We have big dreams.”