Eastman Chemical Co. announced the largest corporate investment in Sullivan County history Wednesday -- $1.6 billion in improvements to its Kingsport facility as well as the addition of 300 jobs over the next seven years.

Called Project Inspire, the company plans to construct a new office building, expand warehousing space and improve manufacturing operations.

“We are going to spend that money in Kingsport, Tenn., Eastman Chairman and CEO Jim Rogers said during a news conference.

The state is supplying $30 million in economic incentives, a $15 million grant for construction of the new office building, a $5 million FastTrack Infrastructure Development grant and $10 million for training.

“We are very, very excited about this day,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. “We think this is a big deal for Tennessee.”

He added, “It was very important that Eastman’s headquarters stay here for a long, long time.”

Haslam said Eastman and the state began discussions on an incentive package five or six months ago. The company had an obligation to get the best deal possible for its shareholders, Haslam said, but he added that Eastman is a good partner.

“We never felt like Eastman was holding a gun to our head,” Haslam said.

Rogers said the company has 6,700 of its 13,500 employees at the Kingsport facility but other areas were interested in the expansion.

“When we go through our capital programs and look at where we are going to expand, we have a number of choices,” Rogers said. “We do have plants in Europe and China and Brazil and in North America.”

U.S. Reps. Phil Roe and Morgan Griffith and U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee were on hand for the announcement.

Rogers said the company is close to choosing an architect for the office building and construction is expected to be completed in mid-2015. He said the company will hire the 300 employees over the entire seven-year period but many could be hired in the near term.

The multi-year project will culminate with Eastman's 100th anniversary in 2020, Rogers said.

Eastman announced a previous $1 billion expansion six year ago.

Network – Sullivan Partnership CEO Richard Venable said after the announcement that the new jobs are going to be high-paying and a benefit to Sullivan County.

“Every manufacturing job that comes here creates 2.7 new jobs,” he said.

The new employees will spend money on everything from home construction to retail, Venable said, adding: "This is a big announcement.”