Nissan is the first major automaker to move it’s North American headquarters to the Southern Auto Corridor. Known around the globe as a guitar-pickin country western town, Nashville is becoming the home of Nissan USA. Other companies have their manufacturing plants South of the Mason Dixon lines, including Nissan, but no other has moved their entire operations out of Southern California.
There have been naysayers; Former Nissan Executive Katayama, 96 years old, sent an email to The Tennessean in November of 2005 saying the company will be making a big mistake if it moves its headquarters from the prestigious Los Angeles market. Nissan is moving anyway. According to the Tennessean, Ghosn told reporters at the Tokyo Motor Show around the time that Katayama gave him the letter that headquarters buildings are “not temples.” Almost 60 percent of Nissan employees quit rather than move from California to Tennessee.
The Shift, an advertising slogan Nissan has been using for years, will now shift to Shift 2.0 and Nissan’s headquarters will shift east, to Nashville.
The value of incentives to Nissan from Tennessee to relocate to Tennessee will be around $200 million USD over 20 years according to Matt Kisber, Tennessee commissioner of economic and community development.
Commissioner Kisber notes a study was done by the University of Tennessee that found that for every one person in Nissan headquarters that moves to Tennessee, that translates
to 10 more jobs for people downstream; adding up to $525 million new personal income every year. According to Nissan, the headquarters, which will encompass approximately 450,000 square feet, represents a capital investment by Nissan in excess of $100 million.”From this location, Nissan expects to realize significant new operational synergies,” said Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. President, and Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn, who announced details of the headquarters alongside Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen at a celebration on the grounds of the 50-acre Cool Springs site.
I’ll meet you at the atrium
The headquarters will be located about 20 miles south of Nashville, TN off I-65. To help functional groups work together, the new building will break down physical barriers between groups and departments through features such as large, alternating atriums with open stairways on each of it’s nine main floors. This design feature will enable Nissan North America (NNA) employees to walk from floor to floor, while also creating informal discussion zones for impromptu “stairway” meetings. Each floors open environment will also include informal meeting areas.
Saving discretionary income and fuel
Included in the headquarters will be such amenities as a fitness center, cafeteria and conference center, all designed to help it’s headquarters employees work comfortably and more efficiently. There was no mention of childcare.
The buildings inner structure, developed in part through benchmarking some of the most successful North American corporate headquarters, will be housed in an outer structure with a fluid, S-shaped form. The headquarters also reflects a respect for the environment, leaving the properties green spaces intact and taking an environment-minded approach to light, heating and air conditioning in the interior of the building. Gresham, Smith and Partners, NNAs architectural/engineering firm, will design and engineer the new North American headquarters, which is slated for completion in mid-2008. Skanska Building USA Inc. will be responsible for pre-construction services for the project.
Also at the ceremony, Nissan announced that it will donate $200,000 to the newly established Math and Science High School of Tennessee. The institution will be a public, residential, competitive high school where students study a specialized curriculum built around science and mathematics.
The new building announcement coincides with the transition of Nissan’s headquarters operations, which will function in interim facilities at the Bell South Building in Nashville until the new headquarters is complete. More than 42% of headquarters employees and more than 45% of professional, managerial and executive employees have chosen to relocate to the Nashville area as Nissan transitions out of it’s Gardena, Calif., location this summer. Nissan to date has received 40,000 resumes, drawn from across the country and from diverse industries, for the open headquarters positions. Almost 60% of total openings have been filled.