By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Business Pulse - Finally, some great Blue Building news
Blue Building proposal.jpg
Pictured above is a rendering of what a finished condo at the Blue Building will look like once redevelopment is complete. Two companies have submitted comprehensive proposals to renovate the Blue Building itself and add townhouses behind it. Each proposal would inject no less than 60 new homes into the downtown area.

The most impactful business news to surface last week was the city of McMinnville releasing the two major development proposals for the Blue Building.

Wow! Those are two projects which will make a monumental difference when it comes to downtown McMinnville and the economic vitality of all of Warren County.

In case you missed Friday’s edition, one of the proposals was submitted by a Knoxville-based company called Hickory Creek Capital Partners. It calls for building 40 condos inside the Blue Building itself and adding 40 to 50 more townhouses at the back of the property.

I talked to Buzz Goss of Hickory Creek Capital Partners on Thursday and he estimates to total cost of the project to be in the $15 million to $20 million range. He’s even given the development a name, Blue Pickett Square, and says it’s a pedestrian-friendly hop, skip and a jump from all the excitement of Main Street McMinnville.

The other major proposal came from a local group, Investment Partners, composed of Bobby Kirby, Jewell Hale and Lake Kirby. Their proposal is very similar with it calling for 24 condos inside the Blue Building with 40 townhouses at the back of the property.

I talked to Bobby on Thursday and he estimates the development to cost in the $13 million to $14 million range.

One difference in the two proposals is the number of units inside the Blue Building. The plan with 40 condos describes them more as lofts. The plan with 24 condos would indicate these are more spacious units.

No matter which company is ultimately selected by city officials, it appears we’re looking at a minimum of 64 new homes in downtown McMinnville. That's a game-changer.

That many homes would probably bring with it at least twice as many people who live there, unless everyone lives alone, which would help support another restaurant and a few more stores downtown. It would make our Main Street even more active -- and that rocks. 

Such a development could even serve to attract young adults to move to this area because of our housing, not move here despite of our housing. My fearless prediction is this is going to be a great leap forward for our town when complete.

Irving College

Market is cooking

Rhonda Brumley has graced many local kitchens with her famous home cooking. She’s worked at Nana’s Kountry Kupboard, Misty’s Café and the VFW.

Now Rhonda has found her way to the Warren County countryside and brought new life to Irving College Market.

“We’re definitely worth the short drive here,” said Rhonda. “If you want to call ahead, we’ll have your order waiting for you when you get here. I’m a meat-and-three type of girl and we have the best home cooking in Warren County. Everyone is this area knows about us, but not many people in town know we’re out here.”

Irving College Market opens at 5:30 a.m. for breakfast with a menu that includes a full line of biscuits and even pancakes if you like.

Lunch is a hit with a rotation of meatloaf, fried fish, chicken ‘n dumplins, BBQ, salmon patties, and turkey and dressing among the menu items. Mashed potatoes, pinto beans, green beans, and fried apples are a few of the side staples.

“The great thing about working here is I get to see just about everybody in this community through the course of a day,” said Rhonda. 

“The kids and parents stop in on their way to school in the morning and the nursery workers come by for lunch," said Rhonda. "We post our menu on Facebook daily by around 10 a.m. and if you don’t want a meat-and-three we have burgers, fries and chicken tenders.”

Irving College SRO Kevin Murphy was one of the many customers who stopped by Friday for lunch. Murph is a regular who says everything is good from the turkey sandwich to the flavorful goulash.

To place a call-in order, call (931) 815-8866. Rhonda is also available for catering so give her a call.

Jazz up your

Yard this fall

When I think about yardwork, I usually think about pushing a lawnmower around in 90-degree heat in the middle of July. I don’t normally think of doing much in the fall, outside of raking a few leaves.

But fall is a great time to make great upgrades to your yard says Abel Cota, owner of Liberty Lawn Care Company. Abel can do just about anything when it comes to outdoor upgrades.

He just recently spent two days putting in a fence. Fall is an opportune time for planting trees, mulching, and doing other landscaping work.

Fall is also a time for hardscaping, which is installing patios or decorative stone walls to give your outdoor living space an added zing. Tree trimming, stump removal, and of course raking leaves are other jobs Abel can tackle this time of year.

“One of my favorite things to do is to start from scratch and do a complete landscaping job,” said Abel. “I also enjoy doing work around pools. I love fall weather. It’s the perfect time to tackle projects outside.”

Abel says he frequently gets calls for some major projects in the summer but that is a bad time because his days are consumed with so much mowing. Now that the mowing work has subsided, Abel wants to let everyone know he is available to provide professional work. He is licensed and insured. He can be reached at (931) 304-4963.


Still dropping

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released its statewide unemployment figures for September and the state has dropped to 4.4% unemployment.

Tennessee is lower than the national unemployment rate of 4.8%.

Believe it or not, Warren County beats both of those figures. According to state data, Warren County has dropped to just 4.1% unemployment. 

While that rate may seem truly amazing, the state still lists 667 Warren County residents as being unemployed. What’s up with that?

My question is what are these 667 unemployed people doing? Do they put on a blindfold when they leave the house to avoid seeing all the Help Wanted signs as they’re driving down the road?

With seemingly every business in Warren County hiring, I don’t understand how there are 667 people who can’t find work. They must not be giving much effort.

A new phenomenon which has come into play in keeping people at home is the expense of childcare, or the inability to find it. The Associated Press has a more in-depth report on that at the bottom of this page.

Here are the unemployment rates of some nearby counties as reported by the state on Thursday:

Rutherford  2.9%

Putnam  3.1% 

Cannon  3.1%

White 3.3%

Coffee  3.4%

DeKalb  4.0%

Warren 4.1%

Van Buren  4.7%

That’s all folks

It seems the past several months have seen a wealth of business news in our community. With the holidays clearly in sight, I hope the business news continues to arrive at highway speeds. 

Email business tips to, or call 473-2191. As always, you're welcome to stop by my house tonight for trick-or-treating. Be safe and have fun!