Jobs possible as second company eyes L'burg

Friday, March 8, 2013

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

Even though the spec building is as good as sold to Project Now, the other company that wanted to buy it has not ruled out Lewisburg as a site for its business.

Council members got this good news from Economic Development Director Greg Lowe at a work session Wednesday.

He said Lewisburg is in competition for Project Solid Gray with a community in a bordering state. Lowe could not be specific about the type of industry or the number of jobs it would bring, but assured councilmen, "We like this project."

If Lewisburg wins Project Solid Gray, Lowe will find out if they want a replica of the spec building, or if they want a structure to fit their exact requirements.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation, which agreed to improve the road in the I-65 Commerce Park for access to the Imperial Foods building now under construction, has told Lowe they can meet Project Now's deadline of having work on the road finished by April 2014.

Lowe reported to councilmen he has been working on getting the I-65 Commerce Park named a Select Tennessee Certified Site, and has spent about $20,000 on the surveys and other work necessary to achieve this. According to Lowe, one of the reports states there is a possibility that endangered plant and animal species are present on the site. Now, he told councilmen, he has to choose whether to spend more money on an additional investigation to prove or disprove the presence of these species.

"I'm not sure we want to do that," Lowe said. He added a neighboring county is dropping out of the Select Tennessee program because of cost.

Lowe told councilmen he saw three choices for how to proceed with the I-65 Commerce Park.

First, continue with the Select sites program.

"It would be great," he said, "But is it necessary?"

Second, build another spec building, and third, use St. John Engineering to make a plan that divides the park into pad-ready parcels of about seven acres, big enough to accomodate 40, 60, and 80,000 square foot buildings.

"Let's step back and look at these three avenues," Lowe said. "I'm leaning toward a spec building, or pad-ready sites. The cost of a master plan has already been budgeted, he said, and the topographic map and survey could cost $8,000 more.

"We need an orderly plan for our Commerce Park," agreed councilman Steve Thomas.

In other business at the lengthy, non-voting work session Wednesday, council members discussed proposals for comprehensive planning service for the city. Three companies responded to a request for proposals, but only one bid came in under the $60,000 council members agreed to spend.

Councilmen took another look at the help-wanted ad for city manager, with Councilman Ronald McRady suggesting a restoration of the demand for computer proficiency.

"It was in the previous ad and you all took it out," said City Recorder Brenda Brewer.

"I think it need to be put back in," said McRady. "Let's get it right."

"Let's ask (Dana) Deem if it's one of his criteria" for selecting a candidate, said Councilman Robin Minor. "If it's not, let's put it in."

"When you get down to it, they don't have to have any qualifications at all," exclaimed McRady.

"We've been over this before," said Mayor Barbara Woods, cutting short that discussion.

Representatives of all three firms bidding for the business of hauling off the city's trash and recycling were at the meeting, and clarified their proposals for councilmen.

Thomas had been doing some research, and said Waste Management was charging its newest client, Spring Hill, quite a bit less than it was proposing to charge Lewisburg.

"I suggest they sharpen their pencils," said Thomas.

"I thought the same," agreed Minor.

Woods concurred, noting that whichever company is chosen, it will be taking trash to the same landfill, Cedar Ridge.

In other business, Dr. Denise Werner gave a PowerPoint presentation about the health screenings performed for all city employees last year.

Councilmen also discussed resurfacing of streets in the city, comp time, supervisory staffing hours at the Recreation Center, and a retreat they plan to take in April.