Tennessee’s elected officials are pressing Italian automaker Fiat to send more jobs to the state. The company’s globe-trotting chief executive showed up in Pulaski on Sunday for a ribbon cutting. The event brought out state’s top economic development officials, even on Father’s Day.
Ultimately, this is an auto supplier plant that currently employs just 90 people in Tennessee. But on stage in the pristine factory floor where head lamps for Chrysler, GM and Mercedes Benz will soon be made, Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne was flanked by Governor Bill Haslam, Senator Lamar Alexander and Brentwood Congressman Marsha Blackburn. The state’s Economic and Community Development Commissioner didn’t even get a seat on the stage, watching from the front row.
They toured the newly-expanded plant together after meeting in a closed-door, roundtable session.
“They’ve been working me over pretty well, as you would expect them to do,” Marchionne told reporters.
The supplier plant in Pulaski – which is owned by Fiat – is already in line for a few hundred more jobs in the next few years. But Marchionne has some other big decisions in the pipeline.
Where will the company’s headquarters be located after the merger with Chrysler is complete?
“When I have something to announce, I’ll let you know. Things are progressing,” Marchionne said. “Where would you like it to be?”
The question was rhetorical, but Governor Haslam chimed in.
“I have a vote on that,” he said. “I vote right here.”
Haslam said at Sunday’s ribbon cutting that if Fiat keeps expanding jobs in Tennessee, “we’ll meet you on Christmas Day.”