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Business Pulse - Novares to close plant
MPC.jpg
Miniature Precision Components is shown is this 2013 file photo. The company, which sold to Novares two years ago, has announced it will cease operations in Warren County at the end of April.

Sometimes it’s sad to say goodbye and it appears Warren County has reached that juncture with one of its manufacturing employers.

Novares, which was got its start in Warren County as Miniature Precision Components, has informed its employees it will close its local plant at Mt. View Industrial Park at the end of April. According to the latest workforce records, Novares has 58 employees.

The closure marks the first time, for me, to see a major industry open and close. I remember when Spec Building No. 2 was being constructed in 2009 at the industrial park in Morrison. It’s was billed as a 50,000-square-foot building that would not stay on the market for long.

As is turns out, it didn’t. Miniature Precision Components opened its doors locally and began production in Warren County with a skeleton crew of about 7-8 employees in January 2012. 

Over the years, the MPC workforce ballooned up to as many as 85 employees who helped the company produce plastic engine components for the automotive industry. Work was so good, MPC would double the size of its local facility and expand to 100,000 square feet.

It didn’t seem that alarming, in this age of acquisitions, when it was announced in early 2019 that a French company named Novares had purchased MPC. Novares has operations in 22 countries and the plant in Morrison is its only facility in the Southeastern U.S. It was a logistical fit, or so it appeared.

I tried several times to get a comment from our local Novares officials to find out why the company is leaving Warren County. Unfortunately for me, they have a phone system set up so you can never talk to an actual person and when you transfer to a private extension the phone rings and rings without ever providing an option to leave a voicemail.

It’s actually a brilliant system for people who never want to be disturbed. They can have customers and other people call their cellphones and never answer their business lines for anyone. That also might explain why the company is contracting.

The good news from all this is at least the Industrial Development Board has a four-month notice that Novares is leaving. The company is still obligated to fulfill its lease for Spec Building 2, which means the IDB will get its money but I know no one wants to lose local jobs.

When I asked IDB executive director Don Alexander about this on Friday, he told me the IDB would do everything it could to find a new tenant for the building. Don said that could include finding a company to sublease it from Novares or a company to buy it.

The building itself is a gem. It’s now 100,000 square feet and it’s been remodeling to have second-floor offices.

The facility is just barely over 10 years old and it has the soaring ceilings that are so desired by manufacturing companies today. It would probably take two years to build such a facility if a company were looking at an empty field – and that’s if the field had all the needed electrical and water infrastructure in place.


Blue Building

Update


I had a chance to talk to Jewell Hale on Friday and he got me up to date about Investment Partners and its plans for the Blue Building.

As has been well-publicized in recent weeks, the city of McMinnville will be selling the Blue Building and its surrounding 4.6 acres to Investment Partners, which includes Jewell, Bobby Kirby and his son Lake Kirby.

Jewell provided more information about the development plans on Friday and said an engineer is currently working on the design for 24 condominiums which will be located inside the Blue Building.

“It’s going to have a rooftop patio and a coffee shop and it’s going to be very nice,” said Jewell. “I’ve already received several commitments for the condos, which will be in the $250,000 to $300,000 range.”

Jewell said they are eager to start as soon as possible but says it likely won’t be until this coming summer before all the red tape is cleared and construction can begin. Investment Partners will be taking advantage of a TIF tax savings program for the property, which is a time-consuming process to complete. 

Jewell says the Blue Building will be completely renovated before townhouses are constructed in the back of the property. The current plan is to build 40 townhouses.

“Townhouses are all very similar,” said Jewell. “You have your bedrooms upstairs and your living room, kitchen and dining room downstairs. They are usually 2 ½ baths. We’ll be looking to incorporate some type of garage or carport with the townhouses we build here.”

When it comes to townhouses, Investment Partners knows what it’s doing. The company is close to finishing a development of 143 townhouses on Highway 96 in Murfreesboro in a project that is expected to be complete in March.

Between the condos inside the Blue Building and the townhouses around it, there are projected to be 64 new residential homes in the downtown area when the development comes to fruition. I asked Jewell if he thought he could sell all those units in five years.

“I’d hope it wouldn’t be any more than three years,” said Jewell.

It’s common to overstate the significance of a project and make it sound grander than it is. We’re all prone to exaggeration.

But I’m not doing that here when I say this Blue Building development, if it materializes as expected, will be one of the greatest benefits to McMinnville we’ve seen in the past 25 years.

It will be a game changer. It will be transformative. It will be all the latest buzz words we can think to describe it.


Family Dollar

Going up


The new Family Dollar in Morrison is on its way up and it’s not as impressive of a structure as Morrison Mayor Sue Anderson was led to believe.

When I talked to Sue months ago, she said she was informed it would be a large-scale Family Dollar complete with plenty of grocery items. Now that the shell is nearing completion, the building looks far from super-sized. This does not sit well with Sue, who really wants to land a grocery store for Morrison.

“I’ve been in talks with Dollar General about a super store like the one they have in Woodbury,” said Sue. “I’ve been told they are interested but it will take a few more years before they are out of their current contract. It won’t be done until 2024.”

My efforts to reach Family Dollar to learn the company’s plans for Warren County have failed miserably. My calls and emails have been ignored by a company that apparently doesn’t want to generate excitement or take advantage of free publicity.

Family Dollar had told Mayor Anderson it hopes to be open by Christmas, but judging by the state of the building on Thursday, this looks like a February opening to me. That’s just my guess.


Speaking of

Morrison …


There was an auction last weekend where some 200 acres of prime real estate sold in Morrison along Highway 55. The land is roughly located across the highway from Prater’s BBQ and behind Dollar General and the Fire Hall.

The auction was remarkable, at least to me, because there were three, 1-acre lots that sold for $37,000. There were three other 1-acre lots that sold for $20,000. That seems like pretty expensive land far away from big-city McMinnville.

I wasn’t able to talk to the new property owners, there are three in all, because the land has not officially changed hands. It usually takes around 30 days to close. What I’m hearing is more residential development is expected to be on the way with some possible commercial property mixed in.

This is just my take, but I don’t think you shell out $37,000 an acre unless you have a definite plan in mind. I hope to catch up to the developers once the property closes to get the lowdown.


New store 

Offers bargains


If there’s one thing I like, it’s a bargain. I love getting great deals and saving money. If given the option, I really enjoy saving a lot of money.

Big Brother Bargains has opened on Mullican Street next to the famous Korner Market. Charlotte McKinney is the business owner.

“We have some great merchandise at fabulous prices,” said Charlotte. “Everyone who comes in here seems really happy at our prices.”

Big Brother Bargains is a neat store with interesting origins. Charlotte had been a hair stylist for 27 years when she developed an itch to try something new. Her husband has been getting steady work at Isha with all the construction projects that are taking place atop the mountain so they decided on opening a store in McMinnville.

“We compromised,” said Charlotte. “I really wanted a boutique and he wanted more of a bargain store so we have a bargain store with some boutique items in it.”

One item in stock which I’d never heard of before is a heated jacket. Charlotte says you charge the jacket much like you charge your cellphone and it provides heat as long as it has battery life.

Also widely popular are the Air Jordan slippers, which are being sold at a steep discount. Charlotte says her diabetic socks are the best price in town and there is also an assortment of other items like weighted blankets, picture frames, batteries, water bottles, comforters, toys, earphones, clippers, and fragrances.

Charlotte has been open a week and she says more inventory is on the way. If you’d like to save a little money, check out Big Brother Bargains which is open six days a week.

Hours are Tuesday thru Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. The store is closed Monday. The phone number is (931) 304-8366.


That’s all folks


The Christmas shopping season is reaching full throat. Phone in your tips at 473-2191 or send me an email at editor@southernstandard.com.