City, county cooperate to attract jobs

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

As construction of a candle factory has begun at the Lewisburg Industrial Park, city and county business developers have reported various steps taken to attract employers to this community.

The recent ceremonial ground breaking at the Will & Baumer candle factory in Lewisburg has already led to more construction as the base for the building was already in place. The candle business is moving here from New York State.

Lewisburg Industrial Developer Terry Wallace and Mike Wiles, executive director of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board, reported to the city's Industrial Development Board on Aug. 3.

Wiles, whose assignment is to pursue retail businesses that might establish stores in Marshall County, continues to develop relationships with the International Conference of Shopping Centers which offers classes for land owners who might be interested in developing shopping centers.

A class on how establish a franchise, such as a Capt. D's fish restaurant, has been proposed, Wiles said.

And businessmen speaking with Wiles have expressed interest in getting more information about the Interstate 65 exits that lead to Lewisburg, he said.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has started to rebuild Mooresville Highway from its intersection with I-65, an area that's been part of Lewisburg for years. The city annexed the right of way for the road that's there now to connect the city to the Interstate.

Meanwhile, leaders from Paris, Tenn., and Henry County visited Lewisburg in June to learn how the Joint Economic and Community Development Board here is organized. JECDBs are required in all Tennessee counties to administer Three-Star Programs that are the conduit for grants and how the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development measures towns and counties on whether they're eligible for more support through matching grants.

"They were real curious about how we organized the JECDB and the IDB," Wiles said.

He and others took the 41 Henry County visitors to a factory here so they could understand the dynamics of such operations in this community.

Wallace, the city industrial developer, reported he's visited industries in Lewisburg.

"We asked if there was anything we could do for them," Wallace said. "Most of them have national headquarters."

Smurfit-Stone, a box manufacturer with headquarters in Chicago, is one business that Wallace mentioned.

He and Eddie Wiles, chairman of the city's IDB, indicated there might be some value in having a representative from Lewisburg visit the company's main office to express appreciation for the business' presence in Lewisburg.

Other activities by local government representatives to create more jobs include: support for a local businessman's proposal to a group in Ohio; advocacy for an injection molding business plan; another tour of a sizeable building that could be again used for business operations; attendance at a program in Manchester on procurement that includes leadership from U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis.

The Manchester event was to include officials from NASA, the Small Business Administration, Arnold Engineering Development Center, Teledyne-Brown, Volkswagen, Raytheon and the Army Corps of Engineers, Wallace said.

In his other efforts to find businesses that might establish operations here, Wallace reported that he'd found a remarkable restaurant in Hohenwald that's named Junkyard Dog. The improbably named restaurant has "good food," Wallace said.