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Rural King

West Tennessee News Round-up

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This thread is primarily for development news in smaller locales located throughout the West Tennessee. Places like Dyersburg, Union City, Humboldt, etc. Of course big developments in these small towns and more rural areas are encouraged to have their own threads, while smaller projects and developments can find a convenient home here.

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Henderson, TN lands Toyota Supplier

Henderson, TN (Chester County) it has been reported on Yahoo! Finance (via bizjournals.com)has landed a support plant from the Toyota Plant under construction in Tupelo, MS. Arvin Sango has announced a $10 million dollar facility that will produce exhaust systems for the the Mississippi plant and employ 40 workers. This is the fourth Arvin Sango Plan in North America.

This is big news for the City of Henderson and Chester County -part of the Jackson Metro- and a boon for West Tennessee. Plants like this often expand to become much larger employers and operations. This is also a clear indication that an auto-assembly plant does not have to be within the state to postively effect neighboring locals and states if good transportation infrastructure is in place in inable easy shipment of support supplies.parts to the main operation.

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Humboldt, TN lands new warehouse operation

Humboldt, TN recently had a ribbon cutting ceremony for the city's newest employer Gray Metal South as reported by the Jackson Sun. The facility has since November employed 45 management and production workers at the facility which use to house the National Cash Register (NCR) operations until 2006. The owners of Gray Metal South hope to employ 175-200 workers in 12-18 months.

I am not actually sure if this is going to be purely a warehouse operation, as the term production worker is used in the article. Some manufacturing may take place on site, if I learn this to be the case I will update.

This was a great bit of news for Humboldt whose industrial recruitment efforts quickly filled the old NCR building (138,000 sq/ft) within months of the closure of the plant. The quick turn-around of the NCR building really reflects well on Humboldt and its leadership. I would look for more things to come in the coming months for Humbodt and/or Gibson County on economic development front, as this part of the West Tennessee is getting a lot attention as Jackson's positive economic influence starts to increasingly spill over into southern Gibson County.

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Lexington, TN to see 169 jobs in Fluid Routing Solutions plant expansion

It was announced just today that Fluid Routing Solutions was consolidating its operations in Florida to it's Lexington, TN facility, at a net benefit to employment of 169 jobs according to this Jackson Sun article. The plant already emplys 303 workers who manufacture rubber hosing parts for firms in the automotive industry. The company was looking at closing down either the Lexington plant or it's Ocala, FL plant; deciding upon Lexington as the best location to continue and expand it's business operations. The Jackson Sun quoted Lexington Mayor Bobby Dyer as stating the firm plans on moving the jobs to Lexington " as quickly as possible".

This annoucement comes just six weeks after HTI Technology and Industries annouced it was relocating both its manfacturing and corporate HQ operations to Lexington form California for a net gain of possibly 100 jobs to local economy. Lexington and Henderson County has had a long and successful record of recruiting and retaining it's industrial base, and recently that track record of success has picked up. One I think would have to argue that local leadership played a strong role in the recent success of Lexington, but one I think also has to look at the recent substantial uptick in success in West Tennessee and across the state to the strong pro-business environment that has been fostered over the last 6 years under Governor Bredesen and his ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber.

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Downtown Bolivar rebuilds a year after fire ravages its court square

Downtown Bolivar [Hardeman County] is making good progress in revitalizing it's downtown into a desitination locale with the help of a state pilot grant accroding to an article in the Jackson Sun. The pilot grant allows all of the state's 5.5% sales tax collections within a one mile area of downtown Bolivar to be spent on revitalization/modernization projects with-in the central business district in which they were collected.

Over 50 builidngs in Bolivar are looking at upwards of nealry one million dollars in facade improvements in conjuction with sidewalk and landscaping projects. The Hardeman County Courthoue is to see a $400K overhaul as well.

Bolivar Mayor Bobby Sain is quoted in the article as stating that upwards of 75 to 125 jobs could be created within downtown by the the redevelopment efforts, and that the end result is hoped to be the creation of a retail, entertainment, and restaurant district for the city. The article also mentions that an upscale hotel is looking at building a 20-24 room hotel on the court square next to the Bank of Bolivar where the 2007 fire destroyed several civil war era buildings.

It's really amazing how quickly Bolivar has jumped on the chance to use this pilot grant to rebound from its tragic loss on its court square and move it's downtown forwardre. I think the vision that Mayor Sain and the City of Bolivar are clearly showing in trying to develop their historic downtown into an asset should be a model for immulation by other smaller cities and towns.

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Downtown Bolivar Rehab to continue despite recent facade collapse during renovations

The Bolivar Downtown Development Corporation has decided to move forward with the scheduled redevelopmed projects in donwtown Bolivar after a meeting to discuss how to proceed in light of a recent facade collapse during renovation work on a downtown building earlier in the month. The Jackson Sun reports that the projects will move forward with the current batch of building being worked on to be finished in about three weeks and the entire project scheduled for by November 1st.

Some local citizens according to the article had voiced concerns over how to proceed with the renovations/redevelopment of downtown structures, and cite the recent collapse as proof more study of how to go about doing the work might have been in order. In light of such concerns steps are being taken to prevent another similar accident.

I think most everyone can agree it's good that the redeveloped of downtown Bolivar is going to proceed as scheduled despite the unfortunate facade collapse. I imagine the risks and difficulties are pretty steep with dealing with brick facade buildings that date back well over 100 years in most cases, so when structural issues arise it should not really be that all unexpected. At least Bolivar is taking steps to preserve and improve it's downtown, many cities have allowed many of their older structures to collapse due to neglect, and not by pro-active steps to try to preserve and utilize them into the future.

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Hardeman County [bolivar] to expand airport and county's economic marketability

According to a recent article in the Jackson Sun Hardeman County Mayor Willie Spencer along with other local officials recently broke ground on a $3.5 million dollar airport expansion at the Hardeman County Airport. The airport will have it's reun-way expanded from by 1000 ft to roughly 5000 ft, which will allow it to handle larger corporate level jets, a key factor in luring new industrial/business firms to to look at county as a prospective locale for their operations. The project also calls for the construction of additional hangars and road improvements around the airport.

Hardeman County seems to doing a lot of the right things to get businesses and industries to look at it as a good place to do business. Between making downtown a more attractive and marketable place, and working on bettering their transportation infrastructure the Bolivar and the county are posed to be much more attractive to new businesses and industries in the years to come as long as they continue to keep forward looking mentality in marketing and development projects.

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Haywood County [brownsville] proposes new jail and court facilities at old Wal-Mart facility

According to the Jackson Sun Haywood County is looking at a roughly $15 million dollar new judicial facility project that will take the old Wal-Mart facility in Brownsville and convert it into a new court and jail facility for the county. Local residents have signed a petition for the county to choose another location citing safety concerns for the type of neighborhood it would located in, but local officials say no matter where the jail in located some folks will not be happy as it's not the sort of facility anyone wants located near them, but that opinions could change once the facility was completed and locals could see that new Judicial Complex would be similar to the very nice facility recently built in downtown Jackson [Madison County].

Well this is one way to re-use a big box shell left by a retailer, unconventional to say the least, but very practical. I see no problem with this project as long as it's built with safety in mind, in a way that makes it as clean and un-imposing as possible for the local neighborhood, and saves the taxpayer's money. Of course I wouldn't want the jail built in my neighborhood either, but jails are built in or near residential areas in most towns big and small all across the country, it's just a fact of life that nobody really likes to deal with - as the article alluded to.

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Newbern [Dyer County] to see 45 new jobs due to Eaton manufacturing consolidation

The Dyersburg State Gazette is reporting that Durodyn Manufacturing, a maker of hoses for the military and industry, is closing their facility in Arizona to consolidate operations with it's parent company's facility in Newbern, Tennessee. The Newbern Eaton plant currently employs 187 employees according the the State Gazette and looks to gain upwards of 45 employees from this process.

Newbern is the second largest city in Dyer County with a population of 3,117 accroding the TECD. Despite it's apparent small stature, it is a manufacturing powerhouse for the region for it's size. The city currently has an estimated 1460 jobs without counting these jobs, or the recentlyy opened Briggs & Stratton Plant which probably employs at least 200 employees. Dyersburg for comparison, another major industrial center, has a population of 17, 452 and has roughly 4,000 manufacturing jobs not counting a new automotive plant, NSK Steering Systems America Inc, that will/does employ a sizable number of new workers. Clearly Newbern, and for that matter Dyer County as a whole, is doing well in maintaining and expanding it's industrial employment levels, which can be attributed to a great spec building program, good marketing, and quality city/county leadership and co-operation.

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Milan [Gibson County] to see downtown redevelopment spurred by the construction of a new downtown school board office and pursuence of redevelopment grants

The Milan Mirror-Exchange reported last week that the Milan Special School District voted 6-1 to construct their new central administrative offices at the intersection of Main and Church in downtown Milan. The move was passed after hearing a pledge by Mayor Crider to pursue further downtown improvements if the school board voted to choose the downtown location, which was supported by many in the community, esp. current downtown merhcants, who see it as a much needed first step in reviving the city's struggling historic core. The new 7,600 sq/ft facility will require four existing buildings torn down, which should proceed swiftly as all the owners have already agreed to sell at agreed upon verbal prices offered by the city.

The City of Milan will also be pursuing state and federal grants to do a phase redevelopment of downtown in the coming years. Mayor Crider specifically spoke to the board about grant funded projects underway or recently completed in several other West Tennessee cities, such as Humboldt and Bolivar, which included new sidewalks, street lamps, installation of underground utilities, and the re-paving downtown streets. The aMirror Exchange also reported that downtown businessess are already able to start the process of improving their aesthetics via a repainting program sponsored by a local painting contractor in the city.

All in all it seems that Milan's new mayor, along with the city council and special school board, are taking the first big steps in developing plans to redevelop their historic downtown into a location where businesses and activites can once again find a place to take root and thrive. Downtown Milan has a unique chance to succeed as it is the only city along US 45 in Tennessee that does not have a by-pass, thus all regional traffic heading to and from Jackson from the north along US 45E has to pass through the downtown corridor. This heavy traffic count with proper marketing and business planning could be exploited by old and new businesses alike.

Update: Here is another Milan Mirror-Exchangearticle that talks about he creation of a downtown improvement committee for Milan and what projects the city is looking at undertaking to improve the downtown streetscapes and infrastructure.

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Champion Homes looking at facilities in Dresden [Weakley Co.], McKenzie [Carroll Co.], and Milan [Gibson Co.] as possible new manfacturing sites in wake of the loss of their facility in Henry [Henry Co.]

The McKenzie Banner in a recent article reported that Champion Homes was looking at the idled Quebecor Building in Dresden as a possible site to restart their mobile home manufacturing in the wake of fire that destroyed their operation in the City of Henry. While nothing is certian about Champion Homes moving to site, Dresden Mayor Danny Forrester stated he was confident that Champion Homes would chose a location in Northwest Tennessee as the firm was looking was looking at other sites in the region; including facilities in Milan, McKenzie, and Bruceton [Carroll Co]. Carl Holder, Economic Developer Director for Henry Co., stated his county was still working with Champion to try to retain their operation within the county.

The West Tennessee Legislative Delegation according to the article was going to meet with Champion Homes to discuss ways to keep the firm in West Tennessee, while the State of Tennessee was already working with the company in regards to the matter.

It is definitely good to see the state and local governments being so pro-active in keeping a major manufacturer in West Tennessee. Ideally the facility could have been rebuilt in Henry, which as small town will suffer the lost of it's primary employer. McKenzie is the next best location for displaced workers being less than 10 miles south of Henry, with Dresden also being manageable at roughly 30 miles. Just retaining the operation in West Tennessee would be great, but for the workers lets hope that Henry County, McKenzie, or Dresden are able to provide the facility for Champion Homes in the near term so that as many of these idled workers can return to their jobs as possible.

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Dyersburg's Security Bank Building [Cordell Hull Hotel] gets facelift with major renovations

The Dyersburg State-Gazette is reporting that renovations are under way to renovate one of the city's taller and land-mark structures. Current plans are to redo the building's brick and limestone facade to memic the building's original look as much a possible and place a time capsule in a cornerstone of the building for posterity. The 7-8 story building (my memory fails me) is one of the taller structures in downtown Dyersburg and was originally the Cordell Hull Hotel before becoming the Main Branch of Security Bank. Plans are for the renovations on the building to be complete in 90 days.

I will try to get a new picture of the building if I am up that way anytime soon.

Downtown Dyersburg has a small fairly dense urban core, with the Security Bank Building and First Citizens Bank buildings adding some height and urbanist to the city's downtwon lanscape. Most other buildings are 1-3 stories spanning a couple blocks out from the court square which houses a historic domed courthouse.

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Dyersburg receives 722,000 dollar grant for downtown urban renewel

The Dyersburg State Gazette has reported that a Community Enhancement Grant has been awarded for the renovation of downtown Dyersburg. The $722,000 grant is part of a $2 million dollar plan to redevelop and enhance the downtown square around the historic Dyer County Courthouse. Plans include the burying of overhead electric, phone, and cable lines; along with new sidewalks, streetscaping, lighting, and benches.

Dyersburg and Dyer county for their size are very progressive in their efforts to improve the quality of life via enhancement projects like this and their aggressive economic development policies. The Dyer Chamber Commerce plays a very big role in both of those aspects, and it would be probably hard to find a better COC in the state for a county of this size.

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Dyersburg receives 722,000 dollar grant for downtown urban renewel

The Dyersburg State Gazette has reported that a Community Enhancement Grant has been awarded for the renovation of downtown Dyersburg. The $722,000 grant is part of a $2 million dollar plan to redevelop and enhance the downtown square around the historic Dyer County Courthouse. Plans include the burying of overhead electric, phone, and cable lines; along with new sidewalks, streetscaping, lighting, and benches.

Dyersburg and Dyer county for their size are very progressive in their efforts to improve the quality of life via enhancement projects like this and their aggressive economic development policies. The Dyer Chamber Commerce plays a very big role in both of those aspects, and it would be probably hard to find a better COC in the state for a county of this size.

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