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New businesses and industries eye the region in ‘07

Bobbie Maynard
Thursday, Feb 1, 2007

2007 appears to be shaping up as another year for increased business development across the U.C. The CBJ has learned that several new businesses, restaurants and industries may be considering the area for future locations.

New Tenant For Former Emerson Building

Hillsman Modular Molding Inc. (HMMI) is in negotiations to purchase the former Emerson Appliance Controls building, located at 187 Churchill Drive in Sparta. HMMI currently has two operations in Titusville and Largo, Fla.

Although full details of the negotiations had not been announced by press deadline, The CBJ has learned that HMMI is a full tooling and production company with more than 30 years of experience specializing in the production of small precision thermoplastic parts to consumer specification, especially for an OEM account base. As a privately held corporation, HMMI produces components for a broad range of industries and applications, including golf tees and space shuttle products.

In 2004 Emerson Appliance Controls, the largest employer in Sparta at the time, announced plans to phase out production at its factory, eliminating 492 jobs. The plant had been a fixture in the community since 1968 and made timers for appliances, operating under the name Mallory Controls before a corporate reorganization in 2000.

Expansion Will Bring New Jobs to Region

S&S Screw Machine Co. of Sparta recently announced plans to double its work force in the coming years. The White County Commission authorized a PILOT program for S&S. The company will have 15 years of relief on taxes and is in the process of purchasing its current location. In return S&S will be increasing its work force in five-year increments with 240 people anticipated in 10 years.

S&S specializes in machining, fabrication and assembly. The company serves a diverse group of industries, including heavy trucking, audio equipment, small appliance and textiles. S&S customers are located throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada and Australia.

New Businesses Consider Cookeville & Algood Locations

With ongoing discussion of a new Carmike theater to replace Cookeville's current Carmike Highland 10 cinema, another theater chain may be contemplating a Cookeville location. Consolidated Theatres offers state-of-the-art stadium seating, digital sound, wall-to-wall screens and gourmet concessions. The regional theater circuit, based in Charlotte, N.C., currently has one location in Tennessee at Mt. Juliet – Providence Cinemas 14.

Marie McClaflin, director of marketing for Consolidated Theatres, told the CBJ that the movie chain is "actively looking for new cinema sites in Tennessee" based on the phenomenal success of the one at Mt. Juliet. However, she could not confirm if Cookeville is currently under consideration. Other sources close to the project indicate the movie chain may be looking at property on Willow Avenue for development.

With the relocation of Pool & Spa Depot to Jackson Street, along with Crabtree & Grace Jewelers and Baskin Robbins moving to new locations within the city, the property on the corner of Jefferson and Neal Street is currently under development. Vacant buildings on that property were recently razed. Off the record, sources involved with the project indicated that the property is set to become the home of a new LongHorn Steakhouse.

According to the restaurant chain's Web site, it has a "commitment to delicious, quality steaks served with authentic hospitality." LongHorn's menu includes a wide selection of beef, chicken, pork and seafood. The nearest LongHorn Steakhouse is located in Hermitage, 73 miles from Cookeville.

When contacted by the CBJ Rick Trebilcock, senior vice president of marketing for LongHorn, said, "We hope you can understand that we generally do not announce our development plans too far in advance of our actual openings due to competitive reasons as well as changing market conditions. At this time we are exploring a number of future expansion opportunities – including Tennessee – but would prefer not to discuss the specific details until a month or so prior to the restaurant opening."

The City of Algood is scheduled to soon become the home of a new Flowers Direct Inc. location.

"We have had a business presence in the Cookeville area for approximately seven years," Wayne Brock told the CBJ. "We will be opening a location on Hwy. 111 by the end of February. We are a wholesale florist. We are not open to the public. If you are affiliated with a retail flower shop and are interested in more information, please let me know."

According to its Web site, Flowers Direct is a family owned and operated business located in East Tennessee and was established in 1998. A second location, Flowers Direct of Chattanooga Inc., was opened in January 2005. Flowers Direct caters to the wholesale florist market with flowers shipped in daily to ensure freshness.

Industries Looking At Livingston

The City of Livingston and Overton County are gearing up as two prospects consider the area for new locations.

"We are still in the running for Project Green (a hydroponics manufacturing facility to employ 300 people). We are one of two finalists, the other being a community in North Carolina," commented Rita Reagan, assistant director of the Overton County Chamber of Commerce. "We met with the prospect recently to assist them with the remaining number crunching."

Hydroponics refers to the cultivation of plants in a nutrient solution rather than in soil.

Reagan also said another industrial prospect package was submitted on Jan. 3. This prospect is codenamed Project Acorn and would employ 75-100 people and secure real estate that would support a 150,000-200,000 square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility.

"They had selected five metropolitan areas within two states, and we were one of the locations in Tennessee," added Reagan.

More Development

In other areas of the Upper Cumberland communities are expecting a variety of changes that will impact the local economy this year.

• Access to potable water remains an issue. Land formerly owned by Bowater in Fentress County is slated for residential development. In Van Buren County 7,000 acres of land once owned by out-of-state corporations is under development.

• Macon County's new welcome center will welcome visitors entering the state from the north. Grant funding also enabled Trousdale County officials to locate the Avery Trace Welcome Center in the county courthouse and perform restoration work on the building.

• Revitalization will begin on Woodbury's historic square, correcting traffic flow problems and reinvigorating the downtown. A Pickett County theatre group is restoring a downtown building in Byrdstown. Hartsville's Downtown Revitalization Commission and Goose Creek Walk Committees continue to work on making the city attractive to retirees.

• A 54,000 square-foot spec building near completion in the PowerCom industrial park by the Four Lake Regional Industrial Development Authority is expected to benefit three U.C. counties. Other new industrial parks are planned or under consideration for Overton, Putnam and Fentress counties.

• Repairs on major dams in Smithville and Crossville are underway. A recently identified threat to residents and property in Smith and Clay counties from a possible problem with a mile-long dam on Lake Cumberland is being addressed.

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