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IPFS News Link • Tennessee

A Foundry's Closure Devastated This Tennessee Town but a New Lithium Plant Is Giving it Hope

•, By Andy Corbley

The large Waupaca Foundry closed its doors in the historic TN rail town of Etowah nearly two years ago, and many of the 500 or so workers that were laid off had built lives and families in the town of 3,600 people.

Worried that Etowah would soon become just another of the many rural communities devastated by the loss of America's traditional manufacturing sector, fears have been stymied somewhat by the arrival of Tennessee Lithium, a subsidiary of Piedmont Lithium, one of the largest lithium hydroxide mining firms in the country.

Reporting on the fortune swings of Etowah and McMinn County where it's located, Capital & Main say that, by chance, the former environment, health, and safety manager at Waupaca met his opposite number, Monique Parker, at Piedmont Lithium. Hitting it off, the two organized a meet and greet in Etowah to recruit workers for the arrival of Tennessee Lithium, one of a number of government-funded start-ups looking to try and turn coal country into the "Battery Belt."

"It came down to multiple factors, the first being the quality of the site," Etowah City Manager Russ Blair told Capital & Main, pointing out that since Etowah was constructed by railway companies in 1906, the industrial site where Waupaca was located has great proximity to rail lines. Etowah itself is positioned near other Battery Belt sites of importance.

Spokesmen from Piedmont Lithium say their subsidiary is looking to hire around 120 people from the local community at between $50,000 and $60,000 per annum, while investing tens of millions in the area.

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