Local business wants rail freight dock, requests support

Thursday, October 28, 2010

As Marshall County continues to have the second highest unemployment rate in Tennessee, a Lewisburg businessman is asking area residents and his fellow businessmen to support his request for the City Council to restore operations at an industrial park railroad spur with a public dock.

"At Brothers Fine Foods, we would be able to increase production, as well as employee base, with this ability to ship and receive larger quantities of materials," Matt Harris, the owner of Brother's Fine Foods, said in emails send to members of the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday morning.

Lewisburg councilmen have been advised that Brothers Fine Foods wants good access to rail freight service and were reluctant to take action without a cautious review of the liabilities. As a result the topic was set aside that Tuesday night of Oct. 12.

Harris plans to request support for his request during the noon Monday meeting of the Lewisburg Industrial Development Board in Lewisburg City Hall.

He sent his email out "in hopes that other local businesses will evaluate their own potential benefits of having access to a public cross dock at the restored railroad spur," according to his e-mail forwarded by the Chamber of Commerce. "It is my understanding that the council is hesitant to take action unless there is significant interest by present and potential industry."

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has issued the latest statistics on unemployment in the state.

Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for September was 9.4 percent, down two-tenths of a percentage point from the August rate of 9.6 percent. The national unemployment rate for September 2010 was unchanged at 9.6 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for September 2010, released today, show that the rate decreased in 85 counties, increased in seven counties and remained the same in three counties.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.0 percent, down from the August rate of 6.3 percent. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 19.9 percent, up from 19.8 percent in the previous month, followed by Marshall County at 15.6 percent, down from the August rate of 15.9 percent.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 7.1 percent, down from 7.6 percent in August. Hamilton County was 7.8 percent, down from 8.7 from the previous month. Davidson County was 9.1 percent, down from 9.5 percent, and Shelby County was 9.8 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from August.

Included in Harris' email were questions for local businessmen who might benefit from his request. It would appear that the answers he gets will be reported to the Industrial Development Board on Monday.

Those questions are:

* Would your company potentially utilize the public cross dock (for a nominal fee to the city) to ship or receive product by rail?

* Do you think this would help Lewisburg attract new businesses?