Industrial Development Board director Don Alexander has been a busy man in recent weeks. At Thursday’s monthly IDB meeting, Don briefed board members about all the companies that have expressed interest in locating in Warren County.
“We’ve been extremely busy,” said Don. “As they say, when it rains it pours.”
As I’ve mentioned many times before, confidentiality is crucial for companies looking to expand. That’s why industrial recruiters often have to sign confidentiality agreements and code names are used when referring to companies.
Don says one of the most promising prospects is called Project Houseboat. This is an automotive parts manufacturer that does business in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama and is looking to expand into this area. The company does business with Nissan, Honda and Toyota.
“Their representatives have told me Warren County is their first, first choice,” said Don. “But we’re still going to have to be very competitive to get this one.”
Don says Project Cut and Sew is a company that has outgrown its current facility and is looking at buildings in this area. He said the old Levi’s building in Campaign now owned by Paul Griffin and the old Morrison School building are two possibilities.
Project June Bug is a project that was directed to Warren County from the state and Don said he is pleased to have a solid working relationship with state economic officials to receive such a recommendation.
“Project June Bug is a big one,” said Don. “We submitted our initial proposal June 4 and from the feedback we’ve received we’re still very strong in the running.”
Project Thermoflex is a local company that’s in need of a new facility and the IDB is working with that company to provide a solution.
“Project Thermoflex is here in Warren County and they need additional ceiling height,” said Don. “They are really looking for 32-foot clearance because they are looking at an overhead crane and bringing in some heavy presses.”
Don mentioned a couple other projects I won’t address at this point because that’s enough economic activity for one day. I will, however, take a moment to talk about a new hotel.
Project Hotel looks grounded
Anyone who has read this column with any regularity has probably seen me mention the need for a nice, new hotel in McMinnville. I think most folks agree this would be a definite plus for our area, but it would require a huge up-front investment to make it work.
Don Alexander appears to agree with the need for a new hotel and he went to work on this idea, aptly naming it Project Hotel.
“We have identified a company, a prominent company, that said they would work with us in managing this hotel if we could line up the investors,” said Don. “We thought we had some investors in place, but in talking to them recently, they have a lot of things going on right now and building a hotel doesn’t seem to fit into their plans at this point.”
Not wanting to give up on the plan, Don pursued the idea of having a hotel needs analysis done on this area. The thinking is if the analysis shows a great need for a new hotel, then that could possibly persuade investors to make the leap.
However, in contacting two companies, Don found the cost for such a hotel study would be between $12,000 and $14,000. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think the IDB is going to fork over that kind of money for a hotel study.
All that said, I’m going to put to rest my calls for a new hotel in McMinnville. I think we would all love an upscale hotel with a nice restaurant and banquet hall for people coming to town for Bluegrass Underground and other events, but the money is not there to make it happen. So for the foreseeable future, I see this as a dream that’s not becoming a reality.
Ben Lomand has email woes
Anyone who relies on Ben Lomand for their email service knows last week was a rocky road. Email was not operational for many customers, including us here at the Standard.
Ben Lomand general manager Ray Cantrell says the problem was due to a dramatic increase in spam mail. Ray says he has no idea why the volume of spam mail suddenly surged, but the large volume basically crashed the system.
“Neonova, which is our provider, saw an uptick of spam of about 140 percent and that was causing huge delays in emails,” said Ray. “It basically shut them down. It was brought up that we could take off our spam filters and just let all the emails flow through, but we didn’t want to do that to our customers. We were afraid about malware and other viruses getting through that might have caused much more significant problems.”
The email problem began last Thursday, Aug. 14, when Ben Lomand began to get indications email was not functioning properly. It improved over the weekend as the volume of email dropped, but it escalated Monday to the point where the system became unoperational.
“This week has been painful and not a fun one for us,” said Ray. “I want our customers to know we have devoted 100 percent of our resources to fixing the problem and most of our customers have been very understanding.”
Ray said Neonova is a large-scale vendor which provides service to thousands of Internet providers throughout the United States. He said the company has an excellent track record and has been very responsive to Ben Lomand during this time.
Because of the email issues, Ray said Ben Lomand moved its email to a new platform as of Thursday at midnight. He said all email should be delivered by the early part of this week.
“We are working on moving 2 trillion bytes of information so that takes time,” said Ray. “We want to assure everyone their information has not been lost and it will be delivered.
Let there be flowers
John and Kim Chisam are in the process of opening a new flower shop on Morford Street which will be run by their son, Dustin Chisam.
Nadine’s Flowers and Gifts is currently accepting flower orders with the opening of the gift shop set for Monday, Sept. 15. The phone number for flower orders is 212-9719.
Dustin has a rich history when it comes to flower shop work. He started at Southern Creations when he was 16 and later spent three years at Walker Gardens. He says he likes the downtown location, which is just down from Exchange Furniture.
“We have a lot of room here, 1,700 square feet,” said Dustin. “And to be downtown, we have a large parking lot.”
Dustin said Nadine’s Flowers and Gifts is named for his late grandmother, Nadine Hillis. The business is a full-service florist with free delivery anywhere inside McMinnville city limits. Brenda Martin, the former owner of Tiger Lily Florist, is on board to help with funeral work.
As for the gift shop, it’s filling up quickly with a wide selection of interior decorating items. There are also candles, jewelry, purses, and distressed furniture pieces. For sports fans, there are UT and Alabama items.
Dustin is getting ready for fall with a large fall display featuring pumpkins and scarecrows positioned right at the front door. There is also one fully decorated Christmas tree with five more on the way.
“We’ll be ready for fall and ready for Christmas when we open Sept. 15,” said Dustin.
While the gift shop isn’t too far away from having regular business hours, the decision was made to open after Labor Day and after fair week, which can be a sporadic week for retail business.
Dustin said after opening Sept. 15, a grand opening celebration is planned for Saturday, Sept. 20. Until they, flower orders are being accepted.
Ironworx ready to get pumped
Mike and Pamela Rudisill have been thinking about opening their own gym for years. That dream has finally become a reality as the two have purchased the old Etch facility that’s near the bypass at its intersection with Old Shelbyville Road.
“We actually came close to buying a gym in Manchester a couple of years ago,” said Mike, who works out every day. “This became available at just the right time so we made the move. We’ve had it right at a month and have already added about 30 new people.”
Since Mike and Pamela are workout regulars, they know what people want when they visit a gym. That’s why they made several changes to the workout room. More mirrors, brighter lights, and a new sound system are in place.
“I had worked out here before when it was Etch and it wasn’t a good place,” said Mike. “The lights were dim and there was only one mirror. They didn’t even have any music playing. All you heard in here was a fan.”
Mike has added some new items, like a bouncy deadlift platform, and he traveled to North Carolina to pick up another piece of equipment over the weekend. Ironworx has everything needed for a complete workout including treadmills, bikes, free weights and machines.
“Each treadmill and each bike has its own TV,” said Mike. “I think it makes the time go faster.”
Ironworx is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Gym members are given their own fob which they scan at the door to gain entry.
Membership is $30 a month for one person, and $50 a month for two. For high school students who want to come on their own not with another family member, the cost is $20 a month. Active military members who want to work out while on leave are admitted free.
“We’ve had quite a few people come in who have never worked out before,” said Mike. “We’ll start them on a good program.”
Ironworx can be reached at 815-WORX.
Moore named municipal judge
For local residents eager for news about local attorney Ryan J. Moore, you’re in luck. Ryan has been appointed municipal judge for the town of Morrison. He was sworn into the position on Monday, Aug. 4. Prior to his appointment as municipal judge, Ryan served as the town’s attorney.
Ryan, a practicing attorney whose primary legal focuses are criminal defense, family law, representing small business owners, and real estate law, will maintain his private practice while also serving the citizens of Morrison.
“I am humbled to have been selected to serve as municipal judge for the town of Morrison,” said Ryan. “I spend a considerable amount of time in Morrison. It’s like a second home to me. It will be an honor to preside over Morrison and serve the community by upholding the law.”
Ryan is a fourth-generation resident of Warren County with long established roots in the community. He is a member of Morrison Ruritan Club, president of the McMinnville Breakfast Rotary Club, serves on the McMinnville Historic Zoning Commission, is an active member at First Baptist Church of McMinnville and, along with his wife Ashley, is expecting their first child in September.
The editors of Business Pulse want to say congratulations Ryan. Keep up the good work.
Unemployment going up
It was just a few months ago I was raving about Warren County’s unemployment rate and how it had dropped to nearly 6 percent. I guess I should have kept my mouth shut because since that time local unemployment has been on the rise.
According to the most recent figures released Thursday by the state, Warren County unemployment for July has climbed to 8.9 percent. That’s up from 8.2 percent the month before.
Those figures are in line with the entire state as unemployment increased in 86 of Tennessee’s 95 counties. It decreased in five and remained unchanged in four.
Lincoln County has the lowest unemployment in the state at 5.6 percent. Scott County has the highest at 14.3 percent.
That’s all folks
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