Local plant to add jobs

Friday, August 17, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

Industry in Lewisburg continues to make progress, discussion at this week's city council meeting revealed.

Council members unanimously approved a three-year tax break for Lewisburg Printing that will allow it to buy a second large web press, which in turn will lead to the creation of 25 jobs over the next five years.

"Lewisburg Printing is now a national and global printing giant," Lewisburg Industrial Developer Greg Lowe told the Industrial Development Board the day before the council meeting.

Lewisburg Printing CEO Hale Hawkins told the IDB he hopes to have the new press by December, and it will be able to print on foils, plastic and styrene, thus increasing the options the printing company can offer its customers.

Lowe reported to the council that the infrastructure grant for Project Cloud, the business planning a factory in the I-65 Commerce Park, has been approved, pending the Tennessee Attorney General making it official. The grant is for somewhat less than was originally requested, so the city's part is also less - about $45,000.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has approved the application to improve and pave the road in the I-65 Park all the way to the Project Cloud site.

"That will really improve the look of the park over all," exclaimed Lowe.

He also thanked Kenny Ring and his men at the Public Works department for all the work they have done in both industrial parks, clearing brush, cleaning ditches and so forth.

"It looks really good," Lowe said, urging council members to take a ride through the parks to admire the work. "We have nice parks we can market and show off," he concluded. "It sends a good message."

The next phase in the beautification of the parks will be new signage. A committee is working on this, and the industrial park signs will match new "gateway" signs on routes leading in to Lewisburg, as well as matching a new sign for Jones Park. Nowadays, with GPS devices and smartphone access to the Internet, it's not necessary to have company names on industrial park signs as an aid to truck drivers.

Lowe is also working on the second step of applying to the Select Tennessee site certification program for 127 acres north of the city-built "spec" building in the I-65 Park.

"I think it's something worth doing," though it will cost some money, Lowe told the IDB and the council. The program requires all kinds of extra studies, but the end result is that an industry can buy a site with confidence, knowing they will not encounter unpleasant surprises like presence of an endangered species of wildlife, or problems with drainage or the supply of utilities.

Lewisburg's site could be the first one approved in the new program, Lowe said.

"I would love to be the first one," said the industrial developer, and so far he's on track for this distinction. "It's another arm of marketing," he said.

Lowe made sure to thank Marshall County's Tourism/ECD committee for agreeing to put money into the online training in injection molding, calling it one of the four tenets of advanced manufacturing.

Finally, Lowe announced that he and Joint Economic and Community Development Board Executive Director Mike Wiles have been chosen as mentors for an entrepreneurial program.

"We're moving in the right direction," he concluded.

Moving in the right direction, but too fast, was the subject of the only public comment at the city council's Tuesday meeting.

Harvey Holton, of Hull Avenue, said drivers were using that street as part of a short cut from the south side of town to West Commerce, and traveling at 40 to 60 mph. He suggested three-way stop signs at the corners of Taylor, Jefferson and Orange Streets, and this was officially noted before the meeting adjourned just 30 minutes after it started.

Councilman Steve Thomas was absent, recovering from knee surgery, and wishes for his speedy recovery were expressed.