While welcoming a new company to a state might garner more attention, often it's the expansion of existing companies that advances economic growth.

"Existing industry expansions are the key to growing our state's economy and will help make our goal of becoming the number one state in the Southeast for high quality jobs a reality," says Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, while announcing that Snap-on Power Tools was expanding its Elizabethton plant. The facility, which manufactures hand tools for the automotive repair industry, set up shop in 1974.

Unilever (IW 1000/66) also has chosen to expand in Tennessee  twice in the past three years. In 2009 the company announced a $102.9 million investment in their ice cream production plant that added 275 jobs. Then this past year  it upped the investment another $127 million, adding 25 more jobs. 

See Also: Manufacturing Plant Site Location Strategies

Duane Lavery, CEO of HTL Advantage, a regional economic development coalition, points out that having major competencies already in place bodes well for expansion. "The state's central location, outstanding transportation options plus local workforce illustrate the strength and diversity of manufacturing opportunity."

Expansion in Tennessee was quite extensive in 2012, with companies adding new divisions, product lines and capabilities. 

Magneti Marelli built a new automotive lighting operation at its Pulaski site. The Italian-based automotive systems and components supplier added 800 new jobs.

Bell Helicopter, a producer of commercial and military, manned and unmanned vertical-lift aircraft, invested $10.1 million at its Piney Flats facility and added 125 jobs. "Expanding our existing facility allows us to implement new technologies and processes," explains Eric Cardinali, executive vice president, Customer Support and Services for Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company.

Teledyne Electronic Manufacturing Services expanded its Lewisburg manufacturing facility to accommodate a new product line. The $9.78 million investment will create 96 new jobs. 

"The exciting part about it is that it contains a whole range of new technologies that we don't currently perform here," Shane Green, vice president and general manager of Teledyne EMS of Lewisburg, says. 

Sometimes adding infrastructure is key to helping companies expand current operations. Case in point is AGRANA Fruit U.S., Inc.'s $10 million expansion. "By enabling the town of Centerville to expand and upgrade their waste water treatment operation, Agrana, one of our community's major employers, will now have a chance to expand their production lines thus yielding 60-plus new jobs for our growing economic base," says Hickman County Mayor Steve Gregory.

Longevity can also be a factor in expansion decisions. In September 2011, the P&G Duracell plant in Cleveland, Tenn., celebrated its 50th year in production. Last year the company, a manufacturer of high-performing alkaline batteries, announced an investment of $36 million to expand the plant and add 36 more jobs.

When announcing P&G's Duracell's expansion, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty pointed out there are no guarantees that a company will expand at its current location. "Expansion decisions are only made after careful and thoughtful consideration, and this announcement shows a tremendous vote of confidence in the area's quality workforce and the state's favorable business climate."