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Viewpoint: Positive business news in the Upper Cumberland despite challenges

Claudia Johnson
Friday, Jan 2, 2009

2008 was a rough year for many businesses, local governments and individuals. However, in the UC there were good things to celebrate. Traditionally the Cumberland Business Journal has dedicated space in the first issue of the year to looking back at the news of the previous 12 months.

This year, we’ve decided to take a different approach. We asked some of our government and community leaders (and CBJ readers) to tell us about their vision for 2009 – simple, open-ended request for honest feedback we could share in the CBJ. Beginning below, we have printed each response received.

As I read them, I was once again impressed and encouraged by the practical yet enduring spirit of the leaders of our region. Many of them mentioned the tough economic times, coupling the observation with confidence that defeat is not an option, regardless how difficult the challenges.

One comment about the CBJ I hear consistently is that people are glad to see the focus on good news. Unfortunately, no business publication can offer good news exclusively, and we are no exception. We have been saddened to report closings, layoffs, rising unemployment figures, bankruptcies and other decidedly “bad” news. We are very aware that these are more than news stories and statistics. Real people have been impacted.

However, in 2008 we reported exciting and encouraging news of industrial and business parks underway in Fentress, Cumberland and Putnam counties.

We looked at regional efforts through which contiguous counties are joining forces to attract industry, enhance tourist travel or address infrastructure needs.

Downtown revitalization efforts are making courthouse square business districts, many of them historic, viable retail and sometimes even residential centers.

There’s an encouraging emergence of “green” businesses and business practices. Even the positive use of the term “green” has accelerated in the past year, indicating that the correlation between energy, environment and economics is being recognized by business leaders.

One disturbing concern for business and industry is the potential passage of the Employee Free Choice Act by Congress in 2008, which the CBJ does not support. On page 12 Legal Forum columnists Mark Travis provides a thorough analysis of the issues associated with this Act, explaining the practical impact on business and industry if existing laws are modified as proposed.

The CBJ encourages business leaders to contact your Congressmen and let them know your opinion on how these changes could impact your business and the economy of your community and the UC. We also urge you to submit your commentary to the CBJ for publication on our editorial page.

As always since the CBJ’s premier issue in January 2005, we continue to appreciate your support. Whether it be as loyal readers, contributors, viewers to our Web site or advertisers, we ask that you continue with us on this journey as we further strive to be an important voice for business in the Upper Cumberland.

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