Steps taken for Lewisburg industry

Friday, October 8, 2010

A couple of industrial prospects visited Lewisburg in the last 10 days or two weeks, according to Mayor Barbara Woods who said both looked at the city-owned building in the Business Park on the north side of Mooresville Highway.

The visits come as Lewisburg's Industrial Development Board decided to submit to the City Council five names of people interested in filling two open seats on the IDB. They are Chris Collins, Troy Cross, Mark Tankersley, Steve Thomas and Dave Kennedy.

Meanwhile, a review committee appointed by the City Council to consider the nine applications for the position of industrial recruiter has decided to meet on Wednesday at 5 p.m., Woods said of the panel consisting of Mike and Eddie Wiles, Edmund Roberts, Gary Davis and Woods.

"A client came in today to look at properties," Woods said Wednesday afternoon.

If the business decides to move here, the mayor said, "It may eventually bring 60 jobs with the prospect of 30 more. They are a business established somewhere else... He said he'd know by the end of October. He will let us know if we're on the short list."

The businessman is also interested in properties in West Tennessee and the eastern part of Arkansas, and he contacted Lewisburg officials and those at the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Woods said. An official with the TDECD also visited.

Little is said about industrial prospects to protect their advantages in a competitive market.

The other industrial prospect visited last week and was brought here by employees of C.B. Richard Ellis, a large, international real estate company that was hired by the City Council to be the exclusive agent for properties available from the city. Woods was not present when the city's agent displayed the city's "spec building," constructed on a request from former industrial recruiter Terry Wallace.

The committee established to review applicants for Wallace's successor is to decide on Wednesday how committee members will rank the applicants, a scoring system. It might be by ranking their various qualities on a scale of 1-3, or 1-5, Woods said, offering an example.

The review committee could also select a chairman and draft several questions to be asked during the interviews of the applicants, she said.

The five names of men forwarded to the council from the IDB are the only applicants for the positions left vacant after the resignation of Jackie Abernathy and Tommy Harris on July 6 in an apparent reaction to Wallace's dismissal.

Two of the five men might have been recommended to the council by the development board, but the proposed method of voting was deemed in conflict with the state's open records laws. Board members were to write the names of their top candidates on a piece of paper and those rankings would be compared to see which candidate has the most support. That ranking system, provides no way to have a record of the hoard members' votes, unless they signed the papers.

It would appear that no member of the IDB was interested in a public vote, so all five applicants' names were forwarded to the council which meets at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in City Hall.

According to Woods and general information about the candidates:

* Collins is interested in what's happening in the community, is single, owns his own house and is the chairman of the Democratic Party. He works as an assistant prosecutor in the District Attorney's Office.

* Cross serves on the city's recreation board. He has children, "so he has a stake in the community," Woods said. He works at First National Bank.

* Kennedy owns Southern Carton. "He says he sells empty boxes," Wood said. He's served on a number of committees for the city.

* Tankersley is a real estate professional with a local firm. "Being in real estate, he's interested in industrial development," Wood said.

* The Rev. Thomas of Belfast Presbyterian Church, was one of the few members of the city's Police Advisory Board before it was disbanded. He's also one of the police chaplains.

"It's an ideal group," Woods said. "The councilmen will have their work set out for them."