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Business Pulse: 8/11/13
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It seems it was an eventful week in the newsroom during my recent vacation as I continue to get conflicting stories about exactly what happened while I was gone.
At least our reporters are beginning to speak to each other again after what can only be described as an all-out power struggle for control of the newspaper.
Just before I left for my magical vacation, we published a story about the city’s new rescue boat sinking on its maiden voyage. Now I’m hearing talk the city is considering selling this new boat after just one disastrous trip on the river. Maybe we will get to run the ad in the paper.


FOR SALE
One rescue boat. Only used once. Not good in water. Paid $14,000 in taxpayer dollars. Willing to trade for five streetlights.


At least McMinnville residents have the hang of using the 911 system. I was reading a report from the Albany Police Department about a man who called 911 to say he was shorted one cheeseburger from McDonald’s. The man was actually arrested and spent the night in jail for abusing the 911 system.
This story prompted TV newsman Anderson Cooper to do some research and he discovered two other recent cases where people have called 911 over restaurant issues.
In East Hartford, Conn., a man called 911 to tell the operator he ordered his deli sandwich with a lot of cheese and mayonnaise, but it was made with too much turkey and ham.
And in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin a man called 911 to say he was at an all-you-can eat restaurant. The man was angry because he had been told by restaurant management he had eaten too much fish and could not have anymore.
“They refuse to give me any more fish and it says right on the sign it’s all you can eat,” the man can be heard saying on the 911 call.
All this makes me scratch my head and wonder about the future of America. If we have people calling 911 over sandwich issues, and people so fat they eat too much at an all-you-can-eat buffet, is there any hope?

MPC expanding
into old Carrier


Miniature Precision Components is continuing its explosive growth since it began production in Warren County in January 2012.
The latest news is MPC is expanding into the nearby Carrier building and continuing to add jobs.
“We’re taking 100,000 square feet in the Carrier building and we’re going to be using it for warehousing,” said MPC plant manager Chris Burton. “Our business has been very good.”
MPC uses plastic mold injection to manufacture parts for the automotive industry. The company currently has five production lines up and running and a local workforce of 42 employees. There are five job openings available right now.
Even though it’s been operational less than two years, MPC is in the midst of a 50,000-square-foot expansion. Burton says that expansion is expected to be complete around the first of the year.
“We are targeting 12 lines when the expansion is complete,” said Burton. “We will more than double our size.”
Landing MPC was a huge win for Warren County on the economic development front. The Wisconsin-based company was looking to establish a presence down south in the new heart of automotive country and our community has been a nice fit.
I’m already hearing whispers MPC may be thinking about another expansion once its 50,000-square-foot addition is complete. This is a company were are lucky to have landed.

Carrier building
getting full


Speaking of the old Carrier building, about 80 percent of the 1 million square feet of space that’s available there is currently being leased.
Yorozu has long leased space there, as has Thermoflex and Tennessee Warehouse. Sansin came on board earlier this year and now Miniature Precision Components is taking advantage of the facility.
Director of economic development George Burke estimates only about 200,000 square feet are still available inside Carrier.
So I guess that answers the question about what will locate at the old Carrier plant. A bunch of existing businesses in the Morrison area are going to take advantage of the space for mainly warehouse facilities.

Waiting for
big announcements


I’ve been hearing from reliable sources over the past week that our Industrial Development Board is on the verge of landing two new companies to locate in Warren County.
I asked Burke about that when I talked to him on Friday and he said he expects announcements to come very soon – possibly as soon as this week. He didn’t want to elaborate any further and I understand that he’s in a position where talking too much can lead to trouble.
I have a pretty good amount of information on one of the companies that is said to be looking at a site inside McMinnville city limits. This company is interested in building a new facility.
I’ll refrain from saying any more because, when hearing bits of information here and there, I often wonder about its accuracy. However, George did say there is reason for some excitement.
“It’s not going to be 500 jobs, but the jobs are going to pay well,” said George.
I’ve long said the way to improve a local economy is by bringing in jobs that pay above the average salary. Good-paying jobs pay for houses, nice vehicles, and fancy toys. They give people the luxury of disposable income.
On the contrary, minimum wage jobs just pay people enough to survive. If you’re making $7.25 an hour, which has been the federal minimum wage for the past four years, you earn enough for food, clothing and not much else.
I don’t really see much value in a company creating 500 low-wage jobs. That’s only going to perpetuate a poor economy.
I’ll provide more information about companies locating here as soon as it becomes available.

Kingwood Foodland
gets cleaned up


With a U-Haul and large trash bins outside Kingwood Foodland last week, it didn’t take long for me to get questions about what’s happening there.
Unfortunately, there’s no great news to report. Noel Pepper, the former Kingwood Foodland owner, is cleaning up the inside and having all the shelves, equipment and furnishings removed. When I stopped by Friday, the store was pretty much an empty shell except for a few registers still at the front. I was told by workers on site they would soon be gone too.
Even with the store getting cleaned up, I don’t know if we can expect anything new to locate there in the near future. Pepper still has a lease on the building until next year so I doubt the property owner is going to be in a rush to find a new tenant.
As for what might eventually locate there, that’s a good question. With a Dollar General now located right across the street, I don’t know how well a grocery store will work in that spot.
Considering 50 percent of all new businesses that open in Warren County are Mexican restaurants, that may be the best bet for that location.

Ashley’s Attic
ready for babies


What caught my attention about this next item of business is that Ashley’s Attic is encouraging women to stop by the store this Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. and breast feed their babies. It’s being called a Latch On Event and it’s aimed at encouraging women to breast feed their babies in public to reduce the stigma associated with such feeding.
I’m not sure if the Standard will cover this event but I thought it would be fun to mention it, if for no other reason than I’m a little immature.
But don’t let the breast feeding event distract you from the real purpose of this segment and that’s to stress the new emphasis on baby products at Ashley’s Attic, located at Plaza Shopping Center.
“We are looking to fill a niche in this town,” said Ashley Wright, whose parents own the store. “Mothers are looking to buy locally and we want to offer items that can’t be found anywhere else in town.”
To show off the new baby items, there is an open house this Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. There are a number of neat baby products from cloth diapers, to skin care lotion, to squeaky toys.
Ashley is excited about the cloth diapers because she says they can present a huge savings during the diaper-wearing years. She also has chew bead jewelry that mom can wear and is safe for baby to chew.
The inventory also includes belly stickers you can place on your baby to document milestones. The stickers say things like “1 Month Old,” and “Babies First Christmas.” Ashley says this goes along with the popularity of posting pictures online. This way you can post the pictures and make it even more apparent why you are doing such a thing.
That’s just a sampling. If you have a baby, stop by Ashley’s Attic to see what’s new.

A visit from
a state director


It’s not often I get a personal visit from the director of the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs. In fact, I think Wednesday’s visit was a first when director Gary Cordell made a trip to the newspaper office.
The purpose of Cordell’s trip was straightforward. There are many legitimate businesses in Tennessee, but there are also businesses which are shady and there are many people looking to con you out of your hard-earned money.
“There are very few hours in which our agency does not answer a call about identity theft or about someone being scammed,” said Cordell. “One of our main duties is to mediate complaints between people and businesses. Last year we were able to return $6.1 million to consumers through successful mediation.”
Cordell says if you have entered into a business agreement with a person or organization and are less than satisfied with the product or service, you should file a complaint with the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs.
Cordell is in the middle of a 95-county tour in which he plans to visit sheriffs in all 95 counties. He visited Sheriff Jackie Matheny on Wednesday.
“What’s been surprising to me thus far is five of the 58 sheriffs I have visited have had their identities stolen,” said Cordell. “If it can happen to a sheriff, it can happen to anybody.”
Cordell says it’s important for Tennesseans to know his department is there to help them. He says businesses involved in the complaints are often thankful too.
“Sometimes it’s a good business but the problem results from a bad employee,” said Cordell. “When the business is made aware of the situation, they are happy to rectify it and take action against the employee. Most businesses are committed to customer satisfaction.”
The Tennessee Department of Consumer Affairs website has a wealth of information and even has a link where you can get a free credit report. The website is www.tn.gov/consumer. The toll-free phone number is (800) 342-8385.

That’s all folks

It’s been a festive day for business news. Phone in all your tips at 473-2191.