Clarksville Mayor Fears Imposed Tariffs Might Impact LG Plant

Posted at 8:17 PM, Jan 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-29 21:23:14-05

The recent decision by the White House to impose steep tariffs on imported goods like washing machines and solar products has local officials concerned over the future of a multi-million dollar plant in Montgomery County. 

The news solidified President Donald Trump's constant remarks to defend American companies and protect workers.

In a press briefing last week, the president said, "our companies will not be taken advantage of anymore and our workers will have lots of really great jobs with products made in the good 'ol U.S.A."

The announcement to impose up to 50 percent tariffs on washing products already prompted South Korean-based company LG to warn retailers that it will raise prices. 

LG invested in a $250 million facility currently under construction in the northeast part of Clarksville and is expected to bring in 600 jobs to the area.

The Clarksville facility will be LG’s first washing machine manufacturing operation in the United States.

"Anything that will hamper our ability to get the factory open and get our people employed is going to hurt us," Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan told NewsChannel 5. 

McMillan said she is frustrated about the tariffs because she has traveled to Washington D.C. twice in four months to appeal to U.S. international trade representatives.

She is worried the tariffs will impact the opening of the plant and ultimately affect the local workforce.

"We can't control this international trade dispute and that's what's hard to explain to local people. They don't understand international trade disputes but what they do understood is good jobs. That's what we can't guarantee that they will have if this continues to affect us," added McMillan. 

Much like what happened several years ago, the city fears it would experience the same fallout from the closing of the $1.2 billion Hemlock Semiconductor polysilicon facility.

As a result of a trade disagreement over solar panels between China and the United States, the company closed its doors and hundreds of people lost their jobs.

Last week's tariffs decision is bringing back some bad memories for the longtime Clarskville mayor.

"It's like deja vu. I mean how could you have this happen in one city to the same people all over an international trade dispute issue that we have no control over?" questioned McMillan. 

It is unclear what, if any, changes will come.

Nevertheless, city officials are working to help the company meet the goal of opening the plant by the end of the year. 

"We in the city are doing everything that we can to help them [LG] ramp up that facility by looking at the infrastructure and the other utilities that they'll need to have this factory going into place," said McMillan.