Leaders take extra step

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

NASHVILLE - The team of Marshall County and municipal leaders who went to the Governor's Three-Star Certification Conference recently didn't just stop there. They sought more help developing the economy here.

Meeting with Deputy Gov. John Morgan, the delegation of local leaders asked for state assistance to "help us through this time" when the unemployment rate topped 19 percent, according to Mike Wiles, executive director of the local Joint Economic and Community Development Board.

"He asked for more information" about Marshall County and its municipalities, workforce and industrial base, Wiles said last week, "and we'll carry that back to him."

Wiles anticipates that may be later this month or in November.

Meanwhile, Morgan has taken an out-of-state trip and Wiles and Greg Lowe of Lewisburg's industrial development office are traveling to Atlanta for an annual conference conducted there by the International Conference of Shopping Centers, Wiles said.

The half-dozen itemized requests submitted to Morgan are as follows:

* Greater access to industrial prospects seeking locations or relocations in Tennessee;

* More training opportunities for people here who could study engineering at the local campus of Columbia State Community College, including so-called green technology courses.

* Tuition assistance for Marshall County residents who are unemployed.

* Funding for a feasibility study on the development of Interstate 65's intersection of with Mooresville Highway, an entrance to the county that's in the city limits of Lewisburg.

* Money for road repair to Veterans Drive, the road into the Lewisburg Business Park on Mooresville Highway that leads to the building constructed by the city on a speculative basis for a prospective business.

* Help with waste stream industries in the county if Cedar Ridge Landfill must close because the state's Department of Environment and Conservation refused to issue a license permitting expansion of the landfill.

Gov. Phil Bredesen and Matt Kisber, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TDECD), issued a joint statement to developers such as those who went to Nashville for the Three Star Program that certifies communities as meeting a standard of performance that's to foster growth.

"Tennessee recognizes the importance of successful community development ... and its impact on sustaining economic growth," they said. "The Three-Star program helps ... communities achieve excellence in community development by emphasizing foundational steps and targeting community strengths to improve quality of life and grow jobs."

The Three-Star program sets high standards and incentives like no other state-run program in the nation, they said. It helps communities focus on their strengths and address areas of concern to better prepare their area for economic growth.

Kisber said Marshall County's designation as a Three-Star Community "is the result of a great deal of hard work... Three-Star communities [leaders] know that sustainable economic development is always built on solid community development and ECD is proud to support them...

"Marshall and the cities of Lewisburg, Chapel Hill, Cornersville and Petersburg are now eligible to receive additional incentives under the guidelines of he Tennessee Three-Star program."

Since Governor Bredesen took office in 2003, one of his highest priorities has been the creation of higher-skilled, better-paying jobs for Tennesseans. The Department of Economic and Community Development has spearheaded that effort from the beginning.