Stitt tapped to help grow area economy

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In a move deemed advantageous for Marshall County, Gov. Bill Haslam's administration named a Lewisburg resident to lead economic and community development programs in Southern Middle Tennessee.

Jamie Stitt, the former executive director of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board for Marshall County and its four municipalities, was named regional director on Monday by Haslam and Economic and Community Development (ECD) Commissioner Bill Hagerty.

Stitt is seen as "a local girl who's worked with us ... and who knows the ins and outs" of economic and community development programs that are designed to help business grow and increase employment, according to Eddie Wiles, chairman of Lewisburg's Industrial and Economic Board.

The governor and his economic development commissioner expressed confidence in the new regional directors.

"As we move to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs," Haslam said, "this team will be an important part of our success in reaching our goals."

While she was the JECDB director, Stitt focused her efforts on new business creation in Marshall County until 2007.

Since then the Illinois State University graduate has been responsible for the development and implementation of community development strategies in more than 90 Tennessee counties as part of the Three-Star program.

Her husband, Lewisburg Aquatics Director Jimmy Stitt, served as a Marshall County commissioner until he resigned to have more time with their two children. They live on Todd Avenue.

Stitt's 13-county service area includes adjoining counties, those as far east as Franklin, north to Hickman County and as far west as Wayne and Perry counties.

Her promotion was announced with other regional directors under reorganization of ECD to increase employment.

The new regional directors will serve as the primary point-of-contact for Tennessee companies seeking state assistance with expansion or with accessing state services.

"These are the 'go-to' people companies both inside and outside Tennessee will rely upon to make projects happen," Hagerty said.

County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett was clearly pleased with Stitt's new assignment and while the city's industrial developer, Greg Lowe, was also happy for his friend, he was "not surprised" at her placement.

Liggett noted Stitt's new job before the monthly IDB meeting in City Hall where Ace Bayou Plant Manager Will Wilson reported environmental remediation of the old Sharpie pencil factory will be completed this summer.

The sale of the $1.1 million property by Sanford LP and Newell Operating Co. to Daval Group LLC closed last month.

That will allow completion of a payment in lieu of taxes agreement between Lewisburg and Ace Bayou as the game chair manufacturer continues to hire employees. Wilson said there were 65 employees working at the company's new site on Friday.

Meanwhile, Lowe reported Calsonic Kansai North America is the subject of an amended PILOT agreement that includes greater expansion and therefore another adjustment of the in lieu of tax payments.

This time, it's from 50 percent to 44.3 percent of the normal property-tax bill for a set period of time.

PILOT agreements and their amendments are granted to provide an incentive of lowered obligations to the city and county to foster business expansion that will result in more jobs and a more secure tax base.

In other economic development efforts, Lowe reported he and City Manager David Orr went to a site selection consultant conference in Atlanta where they met a Greenville, S.C.-based businessman who they want to visit within a few weeks in an attempt to expand the economy here.