Dell Computers became an important corporate employer in Middle Tennessee when it announced in May 1999 that it would expand operations from its central Texas base to the Nashville area. In August 1999 the company opened its Eastgate manufacturing facility, a 260,000-square-foot factory for the production of desktop computers, in Lebanon. A little more than a year later, in September 2000, the company officially opened a main campus at a site near the Nashville airport on Murfreesboro Road.
Dell's modern industrial campus generated controversy in the city because of the number of government inducements used to lure the company to Nashville, the millions spent on infrastructure, and tax breaks granted by the local government. It also led to the destruction of one of the original buildings of the Tennessee Lunatic Asylum, a Gothic Revival landmark designed by Nashville architect Adolphus Heiman. State and city officials, along with the business community, strongly supported Dell's move to the region, wanting to position Nashville and Tennessee in the mainstream of high-tech business development. As the Nashville Business Journal of April 14, 2000, opined: “The Nashville region's future lies in high tech.” In February 2001 the corporation announced its first layoffs at its Texas operations, but spared Nashville and Lebanon of the job cuts. At that time, the company employed 3,300 in Middle Tennessee. Then, in May 2001, came news that the next round of job cutbacks would impact the new Tennessee facilities.