Japanese automaker Nissan’s North American division is expected to move quickly to select a construction manager to expand and re-tool its Smyrna, Tenn., manufacturing complex on the heels of a Jan. 28 announcement that it will receive a $1.4 billion U.S. Dept. of Energy loan to manufacture the LEAF, a zero-emission, all-electric vehicle.

A contractor member of the Associated General Contractors of Tennessee says proposals were “accepted and fully vetted” by Nissan long before the closure of the loan agreement and that the Yokohama-based auto manufacturer is “ready to roll” with construction.

Nissan plans to build a 1.3-million-sq-ft facility at the Smyrna complex to annually manufacture 200,000 lithium-ion battery packs to power the vehicles. The re-tooling of existing buildings will begin later in the year to prepare for the manufacture of 150,000 of the electric cars a year, according to a Nissan press release.

The loan came from DOE’s loan guarantee program office and was issued as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, a $25-billion program authorized by Congress as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Paul Latture, president of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, says Nissan has ample room and infrastructure at the Smyrna site to accommodate the expansion.

“Everything is already in place,” Latture says. “They have a large piece of property and enough existing infrastructure to accommodate the growth.”

Sumner Boulden, an attorney for the Rutherford County Industrial Development Board, says a report filed to the board by Nissan indicates that up to 500 construction jobs could be created by the project over a two-year period, along with an additional 150-250 support jobs. Another 8,000 new jobs are projected in the local service and supplier sectors.

“We’re the issuing authority of the revenue bonds, but the federal government is the lender,” Boulden says. “Regions Bank will serve as the trustee responsible for handling the funds.” Nissan will pay back the loan from revenue generated by the project.

Nissan says the project could eventually create up to 1,300 jobs at the Smyrna assembly complex, which was originally built by Datsun in 1984. In 2008, Nissan moved into a new $100-million North America headquarters in nearby Franklin, Tenn.