By SAM HATCHER and CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post
While jobs are not being lost, there are likely to be several hundred transferred by Dell Computers from its manufacturing site in Lebanon to its campus in Nashville, according to Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead. It has been rumored in the business community locally for several weeks that Dell, the computer manufacturing giant, will in the near future move some 250 to 300 jobs from its plant here to the company’s assembly facility in Nashville. Craighead yesterday confirmed that the transfer of these jobs may come as early as Monday. It is important to note that the jobs are not being abolished, according to Craighead, explaining that they are being relocated to a site some 25 to 30 miles away but will still be available for the current employees here to keep if they choose to make the commute to Nashville.
“Dell’s goal is to not lay off employees, but to shift them to Nashville,” Craighead said Tuesday. “The sales of desktops have dropped dramatically, so Dell is moving employees from ‘new build’ here to the distribution center in Nashville.”
But the plan is for this part of the Wilson County facility to be closed permanently, according to Dell Spokesman Ken Bissell. He said the sales of desktop computers are down throughout the industry and Dell is now selling more laptop computers than desktops. However, this is not a situation like Bridgestone-Firestone in Smyrna, where jobs are being taken away and people are being put out of work.
Bissell confirmed that the Wilson County employees will work their last day here on Friday, but most will be moving to Nashville.
“A small number will be leaving the company,” he said. “But we have a need in Nashville.” Besides the transfer of employment positions to Nashville, there is another consideration at issue, said Bob Rochelle, a Lebanon attorney who also sits as a member of the county’s Joint Economic & Community Development Board, the arm of local government responsible for recruiting new industry and commercial enterprises to Wilson County.
Rochelle pointed out that Dell is obligated under an agreement signed when the company first located here to keep 1,000 employees on the payroll in order to be eligible for certain tax incentives granted by Wilson County government. He said yesterday, if Dell falls below this requirement as a result of the employment move, he will ask the attorneys who represented Wilson County when the Dell deal was made for an opinion on the matter. Rochelle said if Dell ends up with a work force of only 300 or so employees at the Lebanon facility as is being suggested, the company, he believes, could lose as much as three-fourths of its local tax exemption which would be the property tax to be paid by Dell on both real and personal property held in Wilson County.
Craighead said that Dell may possibly drop to about 200 employees in Wilson County, but he pointed out that the economic situation has changed since they arrived here.
“I’d hate to see us run the company off,” he said. “I guess we need to hope for a quick turn-around in the economy.”
CEO Sam Hatcher may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at email@example.com.