Toothpaste factory opens in East Tennessee

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HAMBLEN COUNTY (WVLT) -- One of the world's leading toothpaste makers has set up shop in East Tennessee, bringing hundreds of jobs to a region that needs them.

Governor Phil Bredesen joined local leaders at the grand opening of Colgate-Palmolive in Morristown.

The Hamblen County community has long been known for manufacturing, though in recent years several furniture factories have closed their doors.

But Colgate is in the business of manufacturing brighter smiles, a result they are already seeing in Morristown, because with the manufacturing giant in town, some say other major corporations are bound to follow.

“Our town needed that, we needed some more jobs for people, a good place for people to work and to be able to rely on,” said Tina Eldridge, a Morristown native.

When Colgate-Palmolive was looking for a new place to manufacture its top-selling product, Colgate Total toothpaste, they considered several locations.

In the end, Morristown won, a key victory for the town that has seen far too many manufacturing jobs go oversees.

"What I've tried to do, and what a lot of these communities are trying to do, is to get jobs that are permanent, they're here for a reason, they're here for the quality of the workforce," said Governor Phil Bredesen.

"The quality of the workers has been tremendous here,” said Alvara Cantillo, the plant manager. “We could not have achieved what we have achieved so far without the passion and the talent of the local people."

The impact of hiring over 200 people reaches far beyond the plant walls.

Down the road at the Big-A Market, Colgate's arrival also means more business.

"We have probably at least 20 good loyal customers and they love their job," said Linda Pollard, a market employee.

In a world where big businesses watch each other closely, local leaders say Colgate's success here would send a powerful message to others.

"This will probably bring us, in the next five years, three to five other companies that just like to follow good American companies that have a good track record in the community," said David Purkey, the mayor of Hamblen County

Colgate officials told the community that they also want to be a good environmental citizen.

Their new plant is the first industrial facility in East Tennessee to receive a silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

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