Zoonar RF/Getty Images/Thinkstock
Photo credit: Zoonar RF/Getty Images/Thinkstock

Italian plastics company So.F.Ter Group has announced plans to open its first U.S. operation in Tennessee. The company said that it will invest $11.5 million in the facility in Wilson County, which will initially employ 50 people.

The total employment of the new facility could exceed 150 once the plant is working at full capacity. At first, the plant will be operating at a capacity of 23,000 tons but it is expected to expand later to 68,000 tons.

Work on the 100,000-square-foot manufacturing building will begin in July, with completion scheduled for December. An additional 12,000-square-foot office building will also be constructed and should be completed in the first quarter of 2014, according to So.F.Ter U.S. managing director Mark Rodden. Three additional buildings for the campus would be built on the site at a later stage, he said.

G.C. Hixson, director of the Joint Economic & Community Development Board of Wilson County, welcomed the news. The county is excited about the new opportunities created by the company as they will bring economic activity and create jobs, he said.

So.F.Ter selected the site after both the city of Lebanon and Wilson County offered incentives to the international company, which is based in Forli, Italy. Wilson County approved a six-year tax abatement for So.F.Ter that will total more than $500,000, Hixson said. Lebanon has pledged to provide up to $170,000 for sewer lines to service So.F.Ter, another already operating plant and about 200 additional acres in the area. Erin Holt, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, added that the city will receive a $750,000 FastTrack Infrastructure Development Grant to improve rail, sewer and water infrastructure in the area.

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So.F.Ter is pleased with the location because it provides access to a growing U.S. auto market, as well as customers in the construction, electrical and electronics industries and firms across the Eastern and Midwestern U.S., Rodden commented.

Additionally, So.F.Ter announced that it intends to embark on a massive expansion in Asia that reflects the company's ambitions to become a major name in the global industry. According to Ricardo Meucci, commercial director for So.F.Ter Group, the company has four facilities operating in Europe and also has a presence in Mexico and Brazil. He explained that North and South America, as well as Europe, were top priorities for the business and once this has been achieved the company can look further to Asian markets, European Plastics News reported.

By 2014, So.F.Ter will have completed a facility in Chennai, India, which is based on a distribution agreement with Kohyei Trading India starting this year. As part of the company's longer-term strategy a plant will also be built in China in 2016, although the plans are not yet finalized, Meucci stated.