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Business Pulse
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For folks concerned about the Warren County economy, I have great news to report. Our economy is gaining steam, at least if sales tax figures are any indication.
According to information from the trustee’s office, the county collected over $400,000 more in sales tax dollars the final six months of 2014 than it did for the final six months of 2013.
More sales tax dollars mean there have been more retail sales, which means more people have been out spending money. That's a victory!
To be exact, Warren County collected $427,817 more in sales tax the second half of 2014 than the second half of 2013. The figures are based on collections from July to December.
“It’s the economy picking up,” said county Budget and Finance Committee chairman Terry Bell during a meeting in which the sales tax figures were discussed.
Bell said the higher sales tax collections will certainly benefit the school system, which gets the vast majority of such collections. The school system is scheduled to get $314,574 more thanks to the higher sales tax revenue.
That money will come in handy because the school system is in the process of hiring six additional school resource officers so there will be an SRO permanently stationed at every school in the county except Warren Academy.
“That will definitely help out with the SROs,” said Director of Schools Bobby Cox, who realizes the correlation between sales tax collections and the health of an economy. Bobby says he monitors sales tax reports on a monthly and quarterly basis.
If you’re wondering about the status of the six new SROs, I’ll provide this brief update. Bobby told me Friday three of the six new officers have already been hired. The officers are hired through the Sheriff’s Department, but have their salary funded by the school system.
If officers don’t have proper training, they have to receive certification before starting work. Bobby said the plan to have all six new officers in place by the start of school in August is attainable.
In addition to the school system, the higher sales tax collections mean about $100,000 more for the city of McMinnville. If used wisely, that could be at least five more Blue Building studies.

OM Yoga has
New location

Yoga is gaining tremendous popularity as a way to get exercise and also relieve stress. A yoga club has even been formed at Warren County High School.
With interest soaring, OM Yoga owner Sheila Minor decided to move her business to a new downtown location and it’s now open next to Edward Jones Investments on Main Street.
“This is much better for foot traffic and visibility,” said Sheila, who previously rented a spot on N. Spring Street.
OM Yoga has six instructors and offers classes seven days a week. Private lessons are also available.
“Yoga is something that gives you more body confidence and more personal confidence,” said Sheila. “The yoga philosophy is about accepting your body and doing what you can at that moment. Some days you can do more and some days you can do less. It helps with overall self-confidence and it’s good for you physically.”
Sheila says there are a variety of classes offered for people of all different fitness levels. “We can make your workout mild, medium, or spicy. It’s whatever you want to make it,” said Sheila.
A hot yoga class gives participants the chance to work in a room that’s 95 degrees. Sheila says some people really enjoy the class because they believe the sweat helps cleanse their body of toxins. She says class members work at a slower pace to avoid dehydration in the hot room.
Another class is called yoga nidra, which means yoga sleep. Sheila says it will take you between hypnosis and sleep to a stage where your mind is open to suggestion. There is also a bar fitness class and a breathing exercise class.
“A lot of men are wanting meditation classes for stress relief,” said Sheila. “The breathing classes can lead to meditation. Most people think they know how to breathe until they do yoga breathing.”
If you think you might be interested, OM Yoga offers an introductory pass for newcomers where three classes can be taken for $10. “That way you can find out if you like it without making a big financial investment,” said Sheila.
For more information, OM Yoga can be reached at 273-4868.

IDB planning
River float

In an effort to develop strong relationships with economic officials throughout the state, our Industrial Development Board is planning a river float for later this year.
“I thought the more we can get them into our county and get them to know us, the better we’ll be able to sell our product,” said IDB director Don Alexander. “The idea is we could have one guest and one member of our board together in the same kayak or canoe. We could have a catered BBQ meal along the way and really show off our county.”
IDB members seemed to like the idea, with Joe Pugh saying this is something that’s done at Security Federal where he is bank president.
“We take 40 plus people out twice a year,” said Joe.
Don said the idea would be to invite officials with the Tennessee Department of Economic Development and other people who are valuable resources when it comes to recruiting jobs and enhancing tourism.

Country Club
Plaza is full

Many of you may remember it was 2010 when Sam Nuthalapaty began building a shopping center in the Morrison area across from Country Club Market.
At that time, there were no shortage of doubters.
You would hear things like, "Nuthalapaty, you're crazy." And other comments like, "Sam, you're going to lose your shirt on that new shopping center."
Those are just some of the things I remember saying.
But four years later, Sam looks like a pretty smart guy. His shopping center, called Country Club Plaza, will soon be 100 percent full after a vape shop signed a lease Friday to take his last available spot. With all these vape shops popping up everywhere, I feel like I really need to start smoking to take advantage of them.
"It's been by the grace of God," said Sam in his usual humble fashion when asked about his shopping center's success.
If you recall, things we're always so peachy. Sam spent many nights tossing and turning wondering if he would ever get that thing filled.
Subway was the first business to open there in January 2011. Then it was a long wait. Lakita's Fitness Studio opened next and after shelling out thousands of dollars for a nice sign, the business lasted about a week.
The shopping center finally started to gain some momentum thanks to Verde Valle Mexican Restaurant. Then Sam's wife, Sue, moved her Regional Rehab Center there.
The editors of Business Pulse want to give the Nuthalapatys a hearty congratulations. They took a risk on investing in Warren County and that risk has paid off. However, Sam says he has no plans for a second shopping center at this time.

Zechman registered
Healthcare broker

Unless you’ve been living in a cave in the mountains of Afghanistan, you’ve probably heard about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called ObamaCare.
The open enrollment period is currently under way and will last until Feb. 15. If you’ve been meaning to sign up for healthcare, but have been intimidated by the process, help is on the way. State Farm agent Bill Zechman is now registered as a broker for ObamaCare.
“Anyone can go to www.healthcare.gov and do it themselves, but you lose the benefit of professional help and guidance,” said Bill. “One thing I want to stress is it’s not going to cost anyone more money to come see a broker.”
Bill is known by many as "The Voice of Reason." He's also my third favorite Zechman based on the Zechman Ranking System, which takes into account 12 different variables.
Bill said State Farm has an alliance with Assurant, which is a division of TIME Insurance. He said brokers like him are paid a commission from Assurant, but the person purchasing the insurance will pay nothing more.
“I know it’s human nature to procrastinate, but my plea is not to wait until Feb. 14 to try and beat the deadline,” said Bill.
One of the great assets of ObamaCare, in Zechman’s estimation, is people with pre-existing conditions are eligible for enrollment. Another attractive feature, he says, is the number of people who are eligible for government subsidies to help pay for their health insurance.
If you’d like more information about how Zechman State Farm can help with your health insurance needs, call the office at 473-6523.

IDB members
Talk railroad

It was about a month ago when local government officials talked about the possibility of decreased funding to short-line railroads like Caney Fork & Western and whether some of those railroads may be forced to close.
Such a move would be devastating for some local industries which rely heavily on rail transportation.
“It’s a lot easier to keep something than to try and bring it back once it goes away,” said Don Alexander.
Don said the line is profitable between Tullahoma and McMinnville. He said he knows of only two major rail customers in White County and didn’t know if the railroad bridge in Rock Island might pose some infrastructure problems.
Caney Fork & Western says it’s on firm financial footing and its operation would not be jeopardized if a decrease in short-line funding should become a reality.

IDB to buy
New copier

During Thursday’s monthly Industrial Development Board meeting, board member Jeff Golden asked about the status of any potential new industrial prospects.
Alexander said there have only been two requests for information since Thanksgiving as activity cooled down for the holidays. A request for information (RFI) is generally the first step a company takes to find basic facts about an area.
“We don’t have anything red hot right now,” said Don.
Without any red-hot prospects, the IDB talked about buying a new commercial copier. Don said he wanted to buy a copier for $2,500 from local businessman Drew Barrett.
“Drew has done my copiers for years and he does a good job for me,” said IDB member Tommy Foster.
The IDB voted to buy the copier from Barrett, which created delight for IDB employee Ashley Laird, who uses the copier more than anyone.
Be sure to tune in next week folks because the IDB may decide to buy a new stapler.

That’s all folks

Tune in next week for more captivating business news. Tips can be emailed to editor@southernstandard.com.