There was genuine excitement in the air Thursday at the monthly Industrial Development Board meeting.
IDB director Don Alexander reported with glee that a company had visited Warren County last week and, as Don phrased it, “We blew their socks off.”
Don is guarded and typically doesn’t talk about industrial prospects so this company must have been well impressed with our community for him to comment in such a fashion.
“It was a very initial visit, and they haven’t even decided if they want to expand yet,” said Don. “We were one of three communities they visited. I think it’s definitely a good sign that of the three communities, they spent more time with us than the other two communities combined. It shows we have something that has value to them.”
Don said the new $5 million robotics center made a strong impression, as did our thriving Tennessee College of Applied Technology right next door.
Another plus is dirt work is currently taking place on a new spec building at Mt. View Industrial Park. The spec building is scheduled to be complete in 180 days. It will be a 50,000-square-foot building that can be expanded. Don said this company is looking for a 50,000-square-foot building.
“Just showing there is dirt work being done helped,” said Don.
Don stressed the visit was preliminary and we know how things like this can take time to develop. We also know spec buildings attract interest and tenants. With the economic climate still maintaining a strong idle, I don’t expect Spec Building 4 to remain empty for long.
It was a month ago when I reported all signs pointed toward Huddle House coming to McMinnville and I even verified that information with a company spokesperson.
But I also noted the property had not closed and pointed out there’s always the potential for deals to collapse. On this fine and glorious day, I have good news to report.
Huddle House officially closed on the old Captain D’s property on Thursday with a handsome selling price of $360,000. Plans are not to level the building as I would have expected. Instead, an extensive remodeling project will take place at the current facility.
Huddle House is expected to open here in early to mid-April, barring any unexpected delays. It will be a corporate store, not a franchise.
I understand a crew is in place and is poised to start rehabbing the building as soon as possible. I’m not sure if that means work will begin this week or after the holidays.
So it appears Huddle House is officially official. Get your tummy ready for pancakes.
To join IDB
Among the people in attendance at Thursday’s Industrial Development Board meeting was County Executive Jimmy Haley.
Haley expressed interest in joining the IDB in the capacity of an ex-officio. In layman’s terms, this means he wants to be an IDB member because of his status as county executive. Ex-officio members are common on some boards, but I’ve never known the Industrial Development Board to have any ex-officio members.
Haley asked about receiving a copy of the IDB bylaws and asked if the bylaws contain any language about ex-officio members. This may just be my interpretation of how events unfolded, but this request sent a cold chill over the room.
While no one verbalized this, I couldn’t shake the mental image from “The Empire Strikes Back” when Darth Vader tells Luke Skywalker that he is his father. Luke’s reaction was a very painful, “Nooooooo!” before Luke lets himself fall down one of those ever-present Death Star shafts.
Haley’s request to join the IDB as an ex-officio member seemed to have the Luke Skywalker effect. I could visualize everyone in the room saying in their heads, “Nooooooo!” Or maybe it was just me saying that in my head.
I like the current 10-member IDB as it is with no ex-officio members.
Be gift cards
Anyone wanting to win a gift card to a business at Three Star Mall should have been in attendance Friday for the mall’s fabulous and spectacular gift card giveway.
Mall manager Sigourney Younglove drew names from a fishbowl from those who had registered and there were many smiles as folks walked to center stage to claim their prize.
There were more than a dozen winners before the drawing was held for the grand prize. It was $25 gift certificates to 12 stores at the mall for a total of $300. The 12 stores were Kroger, GNC, Bath & Body Works, JC Penney’s, Goody’s, Shoe Sensation, J’s Restaurant, Cali Nails, Roses, Cato’s, Dollar Tree, and Sally’s Beauty Supply.
With everyone gathered around center stage hoping it would be their name drawn from the magic fishbowl, it was Edna Ledbetter who was the grand prize winner. Edna seemed very pleased by this development.
In her first year of overseeing the mall’s Christmas giveaway, Sigourney ushered in a bit of change. She only allowed one entry per person which resulted in many more winners.
“I wanted to spread it out and share a little more,” said Sigourney. “By doing it this way, it helped people who may not be able to spend $400 at the mall.”
Local resident Retta Martin said she loved the new format that resulted in all different winners.
“We were here last year and watched as the same people won over and over,” said Retta. “This year was so much better. I didn’t win anything but that’s OK. It was great to see a different winner every time.”
Thursday’s IDB meeting is a recurring topic in today’s column because there was plenty of meaningful discussion.
The IDB has created what it’s calling a Residential Planning Committee to assist in what’s widely considered a lack of available housing here in Warren County. Andy Knowles chairs this committee.
“Every single person was adamant we need more residential housing, whether it’s houses, apartments or condos,” said Andy.
Don Alexander made a very salient point when he said, “We create these jobs but it’s not as effective if they’re going to live somewhere else and pay taxes somewhere else.”
Andy said some builders he has talked to are reluctant to build new homes here because they can make more money elsewhere. As a general example, he said a home builder might make $10,000 on a home in Warren County and $40,000 on a similar home in Rutherford County.
It was pointed out land is quickly disappearing in Rutherford County and other suburban areas and Warren County should find a way to encourage residential development here to capitalize on what’s becoming a Midstate need.
That’s all folks
I hope you can enjoy some down time with your friends and family this Christmas season. Business news is not my top priority this time of year, but should you have a tip for me to explore, I should be in the mood to track it down by this time next week. Send me your news at email@example.com.