published Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Cleveland groups eye future of downtown after Whirlpool relocation

The old Hardwick Woolen Mill sits mostly empty on the industrial Eastside of South Cleveland. It is called the Old Woolen Mill now. The land is near the Whirlpool's old downtown site.
The old Hardwick Woolen Mill sits mostly empty on the industrial Eastside of South Cleveland. It is called the Old Woolen Mill now. The land is near the Whirlpool's old downtown site.
Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The future of South Cleveland is a community decision, Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce officials told MainStreet Cleveland members Monday.

Doug Berry, the Chamber's economic development vice president, said the city has taken no steps toward what will happen after Whirlpool has relocated to Benton Pike from its century-old downtown site.

Berry, who has an extensive record of economic development work in Knoxville, said he came here with no agenda of his own.

"I will sit down with any family in that redevelopment area and talk with them as long as they need," he said.

Dialogue should be encouraged, Berry said, but not controversy just for the sake of controversy.

Berry, the speaker for MainStreet Cleveland's monthly luncheon, reviewed Bradley County's successes over the past three years, from Wacker Chemical's $1.8 billion investment, the second-largest current investment in the U.S., to Amazon's million-square-foot distribution center.

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Whirlpool also has a century of manufacturing here, and Olin and Duracell have half a century each.

Outside Wacker and Amazon, the growth here has been in existing industries, Berry said.

A 50,000-square-foot speculation building, suitable for an auto components company, and plans to create a Spring Branch Industrial Park near exit 20 on APD 40 also can bring high-quality jobs here, Berry said.

In the meantime, the local lodging tax collection is greater than usual, thanks to construction workers in the area, said Melissa Woody, the Chamber's vice president for convention and tourism.

"Everything that Doug does helps the entire community," she said.

The Chamber receives a portion of the lodging tax to spend on promoting tourism in the area.

Contact Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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