Bradley County seeking speed on attracting new industry

Bradley County seeking speed on attracting new industry

October 23rd, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Gary Farlow, CEO of the Cleveland Bradley County Chamber of Commerce

Gary Farlow, CEO of the Cleveland Bradley County...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Industries considering locating in Bradley County today have a "need for speed," according to Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce CEO Gary Farlow.

For that reason, Farlow said recently, Bradley County is building a speculation building on some of the land left at the Cleveland/Bradley Industrial Park in south Cleveland.

He said actions by companies such as Wacker Chemical, Amazon, Whirlpool and Olin are examples of how the community must be able to react quickly to attract a new operation or keep an existing one.

When industries come looking for a new location, their timelines are being driven by contracts, Farlow said. The companies can't wait for years for utilities to be installed.

Farlow spoke at the October meeting of MainStreet Cleveland.

He said a 50,000-square-foot building is being built in the south Cleveland industrial park, a joint venture between the Cleveland/Bradley Industrial Development Board and Dillard Construction.

The development board has the land, and the company is building the structure. When Dillard has a tenant, Dillard will pay the board for the land and the tenant will move in, Farlow said.

The building's shell will be ready in a few months, he said. Its unfinished floor can be customized for heavy machinery, and the entire structure can be expanded up to 150,000 square feet.

"We have been very fortunate in this community," Farlow said. "I think we are the envy of a lot of communities. A lot of it is being in the right place at the right time. But a lot of hard work goes into these projects. No one individual makes these projects happen. It takes a community."

In the wake of Whirlpool's new site, the planning begins now on what happens to the century-old downtown site of the plant beginning in 2015.

Mayor Tom Rowland recently created a Southside Redevelopment Task Force of local residents to begin the study.

"It is never too early to begin this process," Rowland said.

On Monday a representative from the Knoxville Community Development Corp. will meet with the task force at noon at the Chamber.

"Gary mentioned we are still in a recession," said Brenda Sheehy, MainStreet president, "and to have the things going on that we have here, we are really blessed. Progress is going to happen whether we like it or not. So we are blessed with leadership that takes this development and cares about our community in doing so."