Hemlock announces change in pace - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Hemlock announces change in pace

CLARKSVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

One of the biggest construction projects in the state has dramatically changed pace.

Hemlock Semi-Conductor in Montgomery County says it's postponing three of its four phases of building.

As a result, hundreds of workers have already lost their jobs.

Hemlock representatives assured Channel 4 they will complete phase one and open the plant's doors on time.

Technically, that's all that was promised to Clarksville and Montgomery County tax payers.

Hemlock told Channel 4 that because of changes and volatility in the market, they will finish phase one, a $1.2 billion polysilicon manufacturing facility, but they're postponing their expansion phases two through four indefinitely.

What does it mean for workers? According to the Clarksville Montgomery County Economic Development Council, most are safe - 2,500 will keep their jobs.

"Our economic engine has certainly benefited from Hemlock Semiconductor," said Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan.

Three hundred to 400 contractors doing prep work for phases two and three just lost their jobs.

"I feel pretty bad for them. I mean I wanted to go over there and work because that's the place to be right now, but after hearing that, I don't know," said Johnathan Sensing, who lives nearby.

The economic development council said Hemlock planned to spend an additional 1.2 billion for each of the three remaining phases and each phase would have created an undisclosed number of new jobs.

City leaders are hopeful despite the change in pace, phases two, three and four will come eventually.

"You're always disappointed when things don't move as fast as what you'd like but we know that this company is going to continue on with this process. It may just take a little bit longer than what we had anticipated," said McMillan.

Hemlock had also promised 500 new jobs for people working inside the plant. Representatives there told Channel 4 they've already hired 300 and plan to hire the rest after Jan. 1.

Some say the slow down will help Montgomery County.

"We've been growing at such a rapid pace anyway and the magnitude of this project includes a lot of different people a lot of different departments. Our housing market, especially for multi- family housing has been taxed to say the least. This will give our market a chance to catch up and give us a chance to make sure we deliver what we promised on phase one as well as commitments we have to expansions we have going on right now including Johnstons and Bridgestone Metalpha," said President of the Economic Development Council James Chavez.

Hemlock representatives said they are not building anywhere else in the world and if they expand it will be in Montgomery County.

Copyright 2011 WSMV. All rights reserved.

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