'Green' lighting company moves jobs from China to Chattanooga - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

'Green' lighting company moves jobs from China to Chattanooga

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Hundreds of jobs are coming from China to Chattanooga to make all of the city's street lights more energy efficient.

Governor Haslam thanked Global Green Lighting for helping Tennessee in its goal to be the number one state in the Southeast for high quality jobs.

Global Green Lighting is moving jobs to an 1,800 square foot facility in Hixson. Chattanooga will have all new LED street lights before long, and it's now up to local workers to make that happen.

"We went back to China where we were producing all that, shut the factory down, put it in a container, moved it back and here it sits," Global Green Lighting CEO Don Lepard said.

UTC alum Don Lepard started his company in Soddy Daisy in the late nineties doing electrical work for appliances. When the economy tanked in 2009, he came up with a plan to give "green" lighting a new shade, by combining LED lights with wireless radio control technology and a smart grid system.

"That basically allows us to measure the power consumption or the energy saved and report it back to the utility company, and the city only pays for the energy they use," Lepard said.

"It does save in energy and becomes something that all of us are looking for ways to be able to save money in government because it is the tax payers dollars," Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said.

And to bring the estimated $2.7 million a year in savings to the city, Lepard needs workers. He's already hired 40. By the end of the year, he plans to bring on 160 assembly workers and 50 in sales, marketing, customer service and equipment maintenance.

"Two hundred fifty jobs in the Chattanooga region is a big deal in general, and it's actually really nice in that the jobs for the company are going to cover a number of different segments," Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Economic Development Charles Wood said.

"If it wasn't for the city of Chattanooga's orders, those jobs wouldn't be coming back to Chattanooga," Lepard said.

The city hired Global Green Lighting a couple years ago to re-do lighting at Coolidge Park where crime was increasing. That inspired Lepard to use EPB's smart grid system to give police officers control over the lights where needed at any given time. All of these street lights will have that feature, too.

"From a patrol car they can turn the light from 50 percent power to 100 percent power and flood the area with lighting in less than four seconds from the time they ask for the command," Lepard said.

Lepard says he's proud Chattanooga is the first U.S. city to combine the LED lighting with the wireless radio control technology and the smart grid system. Now he's talking to more than 26 other cities.

He says along with Coolidge Park, he's already done several lighting jobs at universities. He says they're proven to save 50 to 75 percent more energy than regular lights and last five times longer. They'll start out with making 6,000 street lights for Chattanooga, with plans of producing 27,000.

If you're interested in applying for one of the jobs, Global Green Lighting using a local staffing company for the application process, which can be accessed here.

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