Clarksville Washing Machine Factory Touted As First Major South Korean Investment Under Trump

Feb 28, 2017

A South Korean official says a new plant near Clarksville will be the first major investment from that country since President Trump took office.

Hyung-hwan Joo, the minister of trade for South Korea, joined Governor Bill Haslam to announce Tuesday that a $250-million facility LG Electronics will build to make washing machines will be one of the world's most advanced. The plant will employ 600 people.

Joo touted the investment as a milestone, consistent with the Trump administration's priorities to "buy American, hire American." He noted that LG washing machines sold in the U.S. have been made in China.

But LG officials said they've been working to build a washing machine plant in the U.S. since 2010. Company spokesman John Taylor says calls to bring manufacturing jobs back to America weren't a factor, in the end.

"The timing isn't really related to any of that. There are many considerations that have been explored over all those years, including international trade issues, but most importantly is finding the location that is going to best serve LG's customers long-term."

Still, the announcement shows South Korea and the U.S. continue to enjoy a strong trading relationship, said Joo.

Even without the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump pledged to pull out of, South Korea and the U.S. have lowered trade barriers one-on-one, most recently in 2012.

LG also will receive some state incentives to build the plant. State officials declined to give specifics, saying they have not been finalized, but will likely include training and infrastructure grants.

LG could also benefit from Haslam's proposal to cut a business tax on manufacturers. That measure is still pending in the state legislature.