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Business Pulse - A ribbon cutting for a Champion
Champion - ribbon cutting.jpg
A crowd was on hand Thursday to officially welcome Champion Chevrolet to the community with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Owners Alex and Amanda Nafe have operated the dealership since October.

On a glorious weekend where we applaud our high school graduates and pay tribute to our war heroes who gave their lives for America, there is also time to give pause for Business Pulse.

It's a jam packed section for news, beginning with the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for Champion Chevrolet.

Folks who read this column on occasion likely know Alex and Amanda Nafe have been the owners and operators of our Chevrolet dealership since October. What Thursday's ribbon-cutting event revealed is Alex and Amanda are all in when it comes to this community.

They are building a home here and have been full-time, on-site owners who are readily available to their customers.

"It's been my dream to own my own store and I couldn't be happier with our decision to come to McMinnville," said Alex. "This is a family business and I want it to feel like a family business for our employees. I make decisions with a long-term view. I'm not so much concerned with how it will affect us tomorrow as how it will affect us five years down the road."

Perhaps the best news of all is Champion Chevrolet has been doing a strong business. Alex realizes that's good for him, but it's also a benefit to his 30 employees and the entire Warren County car-buying community, which is pretty much everyone.

The last time I made a visit to Champion Chevrolet, I had the privilege of testing driving the all-new, redesigned Chevy Blazer. Alex told me that vehicle has long since been sold, but there are six new Blazers on the lot ready to find a forever home.

If you like the idea of a thriving Chevy dealership in McMinnville, so do I. Champion Chevrolet is located at 1600 Sparta Street across from the hospital.

Offer made for

old Bojangles

Probably the most common question I'm asked when I'm out and about is the status of the old Bojangles building. 

If you recall, it was two months ago when I reported there was serious interest in the building by a fast-food chain with 130 restaurants and growing. The name of this chain, which shall not be revealed, was founded in the early 1990s and has its closest location in Shelbyville.

As many people realize, business deals take time and this one is no different. That being said, I'm pleased to report a lease proposal has been submitted to the owners of the Bojangles property by this fast-food chain. From what I've been told, this offer was made about a week ago and is currently under consideration.

We'll all have to sit and play the waiting game to see what happens next.

Slowly but surely, the old Bojangles building is inching toward one year of vacancy since the restaurant closed in August 2018. 

If it was my building, I would be motivated to take action because real estate prices, which are in a constant state of motion, appear finally to have topped off. I suspect they will begin treading water. Only a lease agreement has been offered for the old Bojangles spot, not a purchase, but overall real estate prices are indicative of demand.

Unless the lease offer was insultingly low, I would take it.

Industrial board

to get $1.6M loan

There were smiles and general happiness at the most recent Industrial Development Board meeting when it was announced the IDB has been approved for a USDA loan through Caney Fork Electric.

The loan has been OK'd, but IDB director Don Alexander was quick to point out the $1.67 million is not yet in hand. Those funds are expected to be  available in the next 60 to 90 days.

The money will be used for the county's fourth spec building with construction expected to start in August.

I am nothing if not in touch with my readership so I realize people's eyes start to roll and their attention begins to wander when I mention the topic of spec buildings.

But a new spec building would be a huge step for Warren County because it would certainly create jobs and very likely attract an out-of-town company to move here.

If you look at our track record, which I detail on page 4C, the IDB has built three spec buildings. Those buildings are now filled with three separate companies with a combined workforce of 344 local jobs.

Spec buildings are in such high demand because they save companies so much legwork. 

Let's use Microsoft as an example and pretend Microsoft is considering locating in Warren County. If we only had open fields available, Microsoft would have ground work to do, electric and water connections to worry about, walls to construct, and many other outside factors.

A spec building is a completed shell that's just waiting for the finishing touches once a company signs a lease to move in.

"We don't have a crystal ball to know what's coming and know exactly what they want so we make it flexible to fit anyone's needs in the U.S., or the world for that matter," said Don. 

Added IDB member Mike Millard, "You're starting to hear about some companies that moved to China moving back to the U.S. Black and Decker is one of them."

As proposed, Spec Building 4 is going to be a 50,000-square-foot facility with 42-foot ceilings. The building will be able to be easily expanded.

"I'm in strong hopes we would not have a birthday on this building," said Don, indicating he thinks there would be a tenant within a year. "Spec buildings really serve as a magnet. Once we have one, it should bring attention to our entire community because that's what people look for."

To make matters even better, Don said the IDB could defer payments on its $1.6 million loan for one year to help ease the financial burden until a company arrives.

"The easy thing to do would be to keep our money socked away in a CD," said Don. "But something like this will create jobs and broaden our tax base and it's what we should be doing."

I occasionally get asked what this county is doing to attract jobs. Building a spec building is without a doubt the No. 1 thing that can be done to bring jobs here.

I applaud the industrial board for its efforts and look forward to seeing spec building construction begin hopefully in August.

USA Gym adds

new fitness room

I'm a firm believer in maintaining good fitness because nothing is more important to a person's quality of life than their health.

If you're sick and tired, you're not going to be as active or as productive as a person who takes time to maintain their health. It's that simple. 

If you're looking for some encouragement to get off the sofa and get in better shape, USA Gym has just opened a new fitness room that has everything you need for a full-body workout.

"This is something I've wanted to do for the past six years," said USA Gym owner Paige Northcutt.

She said she got the idea after participating in a triathlon in Alabama and visiting a gym in Decatur.

Gym owner Leland Northcutt says people have been raving about the astroturf, which is great for running quick sprints and pushing a driving sled.

"One of our members came in and saw the new room and she told me, 'This place is finally legit,'" said Leland. "Another guy from Laguna Beach, California told me this is as nice as any facility he's seen there."

The equipment provides for a different type of workout. It's high-intensity, interval training and it will really work your muscles.

"You have to keep evolving in the fitness industry or you get stale," said Paige. "This gets results and it can transform your body."

There are punching bags all around the room and other sorts of interesting items to put your body to the test. The peg board is a brutal challenge and requires vice-grip hand strength to make your way around the board.

As someone who has always enjoyed a good workout, I'd like to encourage everyone to consider increasing their level of physical activity with the goal of being healthier and happier.

Regardless of your level of fitness, USA Gym is a great place to start. The number is 473-9355.

That's all folks

I've never swallowed a cup of thumbtacks, but it couldn't be much worse than nasal surgery. I'm glad to say I'm clearly on the mend after my operation 12 days ago and ready for more business news. 

Email me with your tips at or you can call 473-2191.