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1 s t ED ITION

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GUIDE Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White counties of Tennessee

PRIMED FOR

PROGRESS

T E C H N O LO G Y P. 25 FULLY FUTURE READY

WO R KFORCE P. 51 S U CCE S S S TO R I E S

AMENIT IE S

TH E TE C H CONNECTION

B U S I N E SS P RO F I L ES

P. 15 TAKING THE HIGH GROUND

P. 37 BUILT TO SUIT

P. 65 EQUIPPED FOR LEADERSHIP

P. 75 FLOURISHING IN THE UC


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TABLE OF CON TEN TS LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION | 6

WORKFORCE | 51

6

RANDY BOYD

52

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

7

JOHN BRADLEY

56

COOKEVILLE HIGHER EDUCATION CAMPUS

8

RICKY SHELTON

60

STATISTICS

9

RANDY PORTER

60

Labor Force

10

CURTIS HAYES

60

Wages

11

PHILIP OLDHAM

61

Top Five Employers

12

JONATHAN WEST

61

International Employers

13

GEORGE HALFORD

62

Commuting Patterns

SUCCESS STORIES | 15

Workforce Data

THE TECH CONNECTION | 65

16

JACKSON COUNTY

Electric Fence Light

66

EPIC TECHNOLOGIES

18

OVERTON COUNTY

Tanimura & Antle

68

MID-SOUTH INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION

20

PUTNAM COUNTY

70

REI

22

WHITE COUNTY

72

U.S. PILLARS

ATC Automation

Northfield Vineyards

TECHNOLOGY | 25

BUSINESS PROFILES | 75

26

TWIN LAKES

76

BENNETT INDUSTRIES

30

iCUBE

80

JACKSON KAYAK

84

FITZGERALD GLIDER KITS

88

TTI FLOOR CARE

AMENITIES | 37 38

TRANSPORTATION

94

STATISTICS

42

BUSINESS PARKS

94

Recent Announcements

46

STATISTICS

95

Occupation and Industry Clusters

46

Property Tax

46

Inventory Tax

47

Utilities

47

Transportation

4 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

Local Incentives

Recent Accolades


HI G H L A N D S E C ON OMI C D EVELO PM EN T GU I D E STA F F P U BL ISH ER

SALE S DIRECTOR

ROMAN STONE

HEATHER THOMAS

E D ITO R

ACCOU NT ING

DE S IG N/ PRODU CT ION

MARGARET L e FEVRE

ADRIENNE STONE

WDSTONE & ASSOCIATES

L E A D D ES I G N ER

C U S TOME R S E RVICE

MEREDITH PURCELL

MICHELLE HERRON

AS SIS TA N T D ES I G N ER

D I S T RIB U T ION

KELSEA BAUER

HIGHLANDS ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AND VARIOUS HIGHLANDS PARTNERS

W RIT E RS MARGARET L e FEVRE LISA BROOKSBANK ALYSSA BARNES LAURA CLEMONS AMY DAVIS

Phone 931.525.6020 Fax 931.525.6550 wdstone.com contact@wdstone.com 114 N. Washington Ave. Cookeville, TN 38501

COOKEVILLE-PUTNAM COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SPARTA-WHITE COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

P HOTO G RAP H ER S BEN CORDA CODY BRYANT ABBY WEEDEN

GAINESBORO-JACKSON COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

DATA

OVERTON COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

COOKEVILLE-PUTNAM COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

The Highlands Economic Development Guide © WDStone & Associates, Inc.

Proud To Be Part Of A Growing Community!

Robert Verble, White County Community President, Larry Garrett, Putnam County Community President, Thomas Lynn, Chairman of the Board, Randy Graham, CEO/Board Member, Larry Henson, Cumberland County Community President, and Jim Evans, Overton County Community President

Member

FDIC


VIP | RANDY BOYD

WORKMANSHIP

M

ade in Tennessee” means something special in the global business commu-

nity, thanks to our quality craftsmanship and the artisan strength of our workforce. A lot of people know about our music, our whiskey and our world-class cars. But there’s more to our story. Nestled in the hills, lakes and rivers of our Upper Cumberland region

of leaders in the four Highlands

is a four-county stretch of para-

counties — is a part of Tennessee’s

dise undergoing a transformation.

economic development team. I know

The Highlands territory occupies

from experience that they’re as

a unique niche in Tennessee’s

intent on recruiting new business as

rich terrain of fine workmanship.

they are making sure the companies

From two-man microbreweries to

already at home there thrive.

major-league transportation and distribution services, the soil of the

When you think of Tennessee, of

Highlands is as fertile for small-shop

course you think of the mighty Mis-

entrepreneurs as it is for large-scale

sissippi in Memphis, the star power

operations employing thousands.

of Nashville and the mountains of East Tennessee. But pretty soon — if

6 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

The Highlands Economic Partner-

you aren’t already — you’ll be think-

ship — a public/private consortium

ing of the Highlands, too.

RANDY BOYD Former Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development In addition to having served as Commissioner of ECD, Randy Boyd chaired the Governor’s Workforce Sub-Cabinet and was co-chairman of the Rural Taskforce and chairman of Launch Tennessee, which supports entrepreneurship across the state. The ECD is responsible for recruiting business and industry to the state, as well as Tennessee’s overall economic growth.


VIP | JOHN BRADLEY

PARTNERSHIP

P

artnership in any industry is important. In economic development, it’s critical to

success. As part of Tennesse Valley Authority’s mission to make life better for the people of the Valley, we work to attract new companies and investment, engage businesses and industries, and serve communities preparing for economic growth. Serving the communities in the

Highlands Economic Partnership,

Valley is a cornerstone of TVA’s mis-

has really proven successful in lever-

sion. We work with our federal, state,

aging regional assets and helping to

regional and local partners day in

put the area in a more marketable

and day out to ensure they have the

position for economic growth. We

tools they need to be successful and

value our partnership and look for-

have the product needed to sustain

ward to much continued success.

economic growth. This relationship is vital in the economic development arena, and we are proud to have such

JOHN BRADLEY Senior Vice President of Economic Development, Tennessee Valley Authority John Bradley is a veteran economic development professional with more than 30 years’ experience. He came to TVA in 2002 from the Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce, where he was senior vice president of economic development. During his tenure at TVA, Bradley has implemented a broad range of new initiatives, including a targeted industrial recruitment program, and increased support for community development and existing companies.

strong partners in the Valley to help create a robust business environment. Taking a regional approach, like the

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 7


VIP | RICKY SHELTON

FELLOWSHIP

A

home is more than a dot on a map, and it’s more than where you live and

work. A home is where you want to live and work. We spend a lot of time on economic development projects. It’s our civic responsibility to keep the work climate here healthy. But we also spend a lot of time on community development projects. That’s a passion of

find fellowship and a friendly smile.

mine. If we don’t have family-friendly events and activities, our families

Cookeville has been my family’s

will go elsewhere to find them. I’d

home for generations. Somewhere

rather they stayed put.

in the Highlands, there might be a home for you and your family — and

I believe it’s fellowship that makes a

your company’s families as well. I’m

community a home. It’s also access

proud to call the Highlands home.

to healthy living, arts and entertain-

I hope that, one day, you might be,

ment, festivals in the summer and

too.

holiday magic in the winter — all of which you’ll find in abundance here. Cookeville is the largest city in the Highlands, but it’s just one of many towns and communities where you’ll

8 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

RICKY S HELTO N Mayor, Cookeville, Tennessee Ricky Shelton is a three-term member of the Cookeville City Council and was elected mayor in 2014. During his first eight years in office, he sponsored measures enhancing public safety, job creation and business expansion. As a councilman and now mayor, Shelton has made quality of life a particular interest, advocating for municipal projects including parks, sports and fitness complexes, a history museum and two new festivals in the Cookeville area celebrating the 4th of July and Christmas.


VIP | RANDY PORTER

CITIZENSHIP

G

ood neighbors. More than wealth, more than beauty, more than location, the

single most important sign of a good community is good neighbors. You’ll find that kind of caring here in the Highlands. Caring is what it all boils down to — caring and citizenship. As county executive, I’m responsible for a system that spans it all: education, roads, justice, health,

seans find problems, they look for

safety, parks and emergency ser-

solutions.

vices. There’s no problem that can’t be solved by asking, “Is this what a

That kind of civic spirit makes us

good neighbor would do?” and then

a better place to live — and gives

changing behavior or process or

us a better way of life. That’s what

system accordingly.

prosperity looks like. Welcome to the Highlands.

When it comes to infrastructure, being a good neighbor means being

RANDY PORTE R Putnam County Executive For 30 years before becoming county executive, Randy Porter directed emergency services and 911 in Putnam County; he also served as coroner and technology director. Not long after being elected county executive in 2014, Porter faced one of the biggest winter storms in recent memory — and in his new role, found a new way to provide emergency services. He’s chairman of the Tennessee State Emergency Communications Board and serves on various other committees and boards in Putnam County.

a good citizen. We don’t call Tennessee the “Volunteer State” for nothing. From our churches and schools to thousands of non-profits helping people and causes, when Tennes-

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 9


VIP | CURTIS HAYES

FRIENDSHIP

L

ivingston spreads out in a lot of directions, but we stay true to our heart:

our town square. It's symbolic of shared values, the one place we all have in common, no matter where we came from or what direction we're heading.

This part of the country has a reputation for hard workers and close-knit families. I saw my mother go to work every day in a shirt factory. Her long hours taught me that you have to work for what you want. It's the same work ethic I followed in hauling hay, going to school and now serving as a leader in the Highlands. Our success is only as strong as our friendships, family and lessons learned. Working here, raising a family here — our core

1 0 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

values are as much about truth and unity as they are about the hard work it takes to ensure that our economic base provides quality of life for heritage families and newcomers alike. We value our town square because it reminds us of the value of togetherness. That's what makes us strong, gives us a sense of direction, and makes us the kind of place you'll feel welcomed.

CU RTIS HAYE S Mayor, City of Livingston A native of Livingston, Tennessee, Curtis Hayes was 31 years old when he ran for mayor, a position he has held since 2006. The first African-American mayor in Overton County, Hayes is a recipient of a 2016 Achievement Award from IMPACT (Innovative Men Progressing the African-American Community Together).


VIP | PHILIP OLDHAM

ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND SCHOLARSHIP

U

niversities are in the

ufacturing and business. What fuels

business of innovation,

them is the human instinct to invent

creativity and knowledge

and innovate. It is the quintessential

creation. When we’re at our best, we

essence of American ingenuity.

do two fundamentally simple tasks well: We create and disseminate

As a brand, the Maker Movement

knowledge, and we identify and

may be the new national trend,

develop human talent.

but Tennessee Tech has been in that business since 1915. Tech has

Here in the Highlands, we have a

always produced makers. They are

lot to work with — a lot of smart

our graduates who are inspired to

people, a lot of ambition, and a lot of

innovate, solve practical problems

natural resources and resourceful-

and produce products of value for

ness. Reaching out to existing and

their companies, communities and

prospective industry is a natural for

personal enjoyment.

us in both research and education. It’s exciting to witness the TTU Tennessee Tech is part of the “Maker

tradition becoming mainstream as

Movement,” a phenomenon bringing

we inspire the next generation of stu-

together communities of entre-

dent innovators and entrepreneurs.

preneurs, inventors, innovators,

It’s exciting to think of that next gen-

educators and political leaders of all

eration taking on leadership roles in

ages from all sorts of disciplinary

their own businesses and in yours.

PHILIP OLDHAM President, Tennessee Tech University Philip Oldham, a native Tennessean, moved to Cookeville in 2012 as Tennessee Tech University’s ninth president. Never missing an opportunity to strengthen economic ties between the university and region, Oldham visits cities as near as Indianapolis and countries as far as India as an ambassador for TTU and for the Highlands.

backgrounds such as art, design, science, engineering, advanced man-

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 11


VIP | JONATHAN WEST

RELATIONSHIPS

S

ixty-five years ago, the Highlands markets were considered too rural to

support a telephone company, so our communities joined together to form a cooperative, member-owned business that today is one of the largest communications cooperatives in the country. We chalk up our success to the resourcefulness of the three generations that came before us — and to the fact that our customers are not

expand and evolve. Simply put, the

only our families and friends and the

fiber network we have invested in

businesses that employ them, but,

can exceed the needs of your busi-

quite literally, our owners, too.

ness today and into the future.

Today’s communications services are

Within our region, Twin Lakes has

largely about broadband-based tech-

developed relationships based on

nologies. Here at Twin Lakes, we’re

deep roots and sustainable growth.

building an expansive fiber optic

Combine those relationships with

network throughout the Highlands

access to Twin Lakes’ advanced

region to connect our customers to

broadband network, and the op-

the world at the speed of light. With

portunities are boundless. That’s

speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, we

why having a local provider with a

offer the fastest broadband avail-

nationwide network makes so much

able anywhere with a network that

sense for the businesses of the

can continue to grow in speed as

Highlands.

the needs of the future continue to

1 2 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

JONATHAN W E ST CEO and General Manager, Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative Jonathan West, an engineering graduate of Tennessee Tech University, joined the Twin Lakes team in 2001 and was appointed CEO and general manager in 2010.


VIP | GEORGE HALFORD

CHAMPIONSHIP AND OWNERSHIP

I

n the Highlands of Tennessee, we like to say that “champions are made here.”

Literally, that’s referring to our hosting the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association football playoffs, when thousands of high school players and their families and friends roar into Cookeville for three days of competition. But figuratively, that’s how we view the industries that trust us with their workforce and income and take advantage of all the benefits of the Highlands: a transportion hub, a smart and skilled workforce, a welcoming tax environment, and quality-of-life benchmarks second to none. The four counties of the Highlands have formed an economic partnership. You might say we have ownership of it. Our respective chambers of commerce, city and county

governments and key institutions are committed to the vision of expanding our industrial and entrepreneurial base. We’re doing that by investing in business parks, by aggressively seeking sources of workforce development and education, and by securing a real game-changer in our reputation as a transporta-

GEORGE HALFO R D CEO, Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce George Halford, who joined the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce in 2004, has more than 40 years of experience with economic development initiatives. Before the move to Cookeville, Halford was vice president of the Central Charlotte Division of the Charlotte (N.C.) Chamber of Commerce and president of the Clarksville-Montgomery County (Tenn.) Economic and Development Council.

tion hub — a fifth interchange off Interstate 40. Our existing industries are champions. We’re keeping an eye on the sidelines, looking for other players who might find the Highlands a good fit. Try us on for size.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 13


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Success Stories SECTION I

What’s so great about the Highlands? Four local companies — one from each of the four Highlands counties — share why they chose the Highlands as their business location, which area resources have helped them the most, and how our pro-business environment has affected their bottom lines.


JACKSON COUNTY

John Bishop, owner of Electric Fence Light, at his facility in Jackson County

Electric Fence Light Company WHY THE HIGHLANDS

The latest runner off the starting line in Jackson County is Electric Fence Light Company — a manufacturer born of necessity and innovation. CEO John Bishop, an engineer with decades of custom design and quality work under his belt, runs a small farm in Jackson County with his wife, who owns six horses, boards others and gives riding lessons. The thing about a horse, says Bishop, is that it’s always looking for a way to get loose — espe-

1 6 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

cially at night, when no one is around to stop it. So he designed electric fence lights that continually flash when a fence is active and go out when a fence goes down. Then he designed metal brackets that allow you to mount just about anything to a “t-post.” Those fence monitoring and farm lighting products led to others, and Bishop’s thoughts turned to fabrication and retail. His start-up was in 2014, he spent 2015 refining his business plan and hitting the road for trade shows, and 2016 became

his first sustainable year of retail sales. Bishop says he picked the Highlands to locate his business becuase it’s home. “My wife and I are not city people,” he said. “Jackson County had a really good price range for us. And a small community has a lot of possibilities.”

MOST VALUABLE RESOURCES

The Dodson Branch community that straddles the Jackson County line and is home to EFL has the biggest population


Jackson County had a

Bishop assembles a fence light.

really good price range for us. And a small community in Jackson County. Its sense of community is strong, and there’s room to grow. Quality of life drew the Bishop family here in the first place, and the community has proved to be the perfect location for the fledgling business. For EFL, the other key ingredient is proximity to Cookeville, where EFL’s fabrication partners, Genco Stamping and Putnam County Plastics, are located, and where the distribution network is the most comprehensive in the Highlands.

REAPING THE DIVIDENDS Having worked in the industry since the 1980s, Bishop under-

stands the need for continual research and development that provides responsiveness to customers. For the time being, his relationships with Genco and Putnam County Plastics — which have built-in equipment infrastructure — are saving him the cost of having to invest in his own fabrication plant and are saving him time, as well, allowing him to devote himself to sales and R&D. "I like to look at things and figure out ways to improve them,” said Bishop. “I know that whatever makes my life easier on a farm is going to make it easier for other farmers, as well. I can see this small company

has a lot of possibilities. CEO JOHN B I SH O P

turning into something really, really wonderful." EFL’s products are already sold by farm suppliers Menards, Orsheln and Jeffers, and will be on shelves in Tractor Supply stores nationwide in early 2017.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 17


OVERTON COUNTY

We have now been in the Highlands for eight years, and we continue to grow and thrive each year. GM ZACK BARNES

Tanimura & Antle WHY THE HIGHLANDS

Founded in 1982, Tanimura & Antle is a third-generation, family owned and operated vegetable growing, packing and shipping company based out of Salinas, California. Although their conventional farming operations have made a home in the west for over 30 years, the company looked to the Highlands of Tennessee for one of their most innovative ventures to date. Hydroponics is a sustainable growing practice where plants are grown in large pools using

1 8 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

floating boards to keep them above the water while allowing the root systems to take in nutrients from below. In addition to their dedication to innovation in the agriculture industry, the company strives to always put quality first when it comes to their products. A key component in being able to do so has been their prime location provided by the Highlands. “When it came to choosing a location for the hydroponic facility, the Highlands area was a great fit for us as a company,” said Zack Barnes, the Tanimura

& Antle general manager of hydroponics. “Logistics are an enormous, costly part of our industry, and figuring out how to get our product from the facility to the shelves in as short an amount of time as possible is very important to us and to our customers. The location of our Livingston facility allows us to do just that, quickly reaching all throughout the eastern seaboard.”

MOST VALUABLE RESOURCES

While the Highlands’ central location has been ideal for


Tanimura & Antle’s needs, the area offers many resources that have only added to its value in the eyes of the company. “This year, our 12.5-acre facility was expanded to 16.5 acres,” said Barnes. “With a physical expansion of this magnitude, we needed our manpower to expand with it. Thanks to the bountiful workforce in the Highlands area, we were able to bring in quality employees to add to our team. Our facility is now able to produce the equivalent of 500 field-farmed acres on an only 16.5-acre greenhouse footprint.” With California’s recent drought, there is one element in particular that stands out to Barnes

when considering the benefits the area has to offer. “Due to California’s severe drought, there were major cutbacks in regards to water per crop, resulting in acres of farmland going unused,” said Barnes. “The Highlands area receives roughly 56 inches of rainfall annually, which has a huge impact on our farming operation, even considering that our hydroponic system allows us to use 90 percent less water than conventional farming.”

expansion in their future, the company has found a home in the Highlands. “We have now been in the Highlands for eight years, and we continue to grow and thrive each year,” said Barnes. “This area’s prime location, strong workforce, plentiful natural resources and financial benefits make us look forward to doing business here for years to come.”

Zach Barnes, general manager of hydroponics, inspects lettuce in the Tanimura & Antle greenhouse in Overton County, Tennessee.

REAPING THE DIVIDENDS The Tanimura & Antle hydroponic facility currently has around 80 employees and produces over 10 million heads of lettuce annually. With another

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 19


PUTNAM COUNTY

ATC Automation WHY THE HIGHLANDS

the globe. “The idea, too, was that Tennessee Tech University would be a useful recruiting tool.”

Convenient location. Experienced workforce. Numerous educational opportunities to sustain the highly technical operation they envisioned. And it was without question that other ventures were seeing success.

From that springboard, the company — which was sold in 2000 to Cincinnati’s TASI Group by founders Jack Miller and Chuck Smith — has continued to thrive and diversify from its roots in the automotive sector, functioning as an extension of its customers’ operations by engineering assembly and test systems that reduce labor costs, improve quality and provide better control of manufacturing processes in life science, transportation, energy and consumer product markets.

To ATC Automation’s founders, it seemed the Highlands had it all.

“There was a lot of manufacturing for this little hub,” Gene Bressler, vice president of sales and marketing, said of Cookeville, where ATC Automation has spent over three decades providing engineered solutions and systems for industries across

MOST VALUABLE RESOURCES

[Community leaders are] just as committed to existing businesses as they are to new businesses. CO N TRO LLE R ADAM BE RN HARDT

2 0 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

Bressler and ATC Automation controller Adam Bernhardt say the region’s higher education institutions continue to be vital when it comes to the company’s No. 1 resource — people. “Without an employee base, we don’t have anything,” Bernhardt said. “We’re not a capital-intensive business, so it’s all about the know-how in the building.”

More than a fourth of the company’s 230 recruits are TTU graduates, while others come from colleges and technical schools such as Volunteer State Community College and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology. “Over 90 percent of our employees are skilled, so we do value those relationships,” Bernhardt said. “It makes doing business here possible.” The Highlands location is also key, as it is within an eight-hour drive of 80 percent of the U.S. population and just an hour from the Nashville International Airport. The region’s natural beauty is another bonus. “If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, this is the place to be for boating, caving, hiking — all sorts of experiences,” Bernhardt said. “That’s really important to a segment of our employees.” Another incentive is support from community leaders. “They’re just as committed to existing businesses as they are to new businesses,” Bernhardt said. “That’s the promise, and I believe it.”


One example is the Pathways to Prosperity initiative, through which government officials and companies like ATC Automation have been working together to align regional educational opportunities with future manufacturing jobs. “That’s been a good relationship,” Bernhardt said. “All the right people — county school directors as well as representatives of TTU, TCAT and the Cookeville Higher Education Campus — are listening to what businesses say they need from students.” ATC Automation has also built strong partnerships with other

local businesses, including its No. 1 supplier, Cookeville Electric Motor, and more than 30 subcontractors in fabrication and tooling.

REAPING THE DIVIDENDS

The Highlands business climate has made a significant impact on ATC Automation’s bottom line. “Since I came here in 1999, the company has grown three and a half times larger,” Bernhardt said. “It went from roughly $20 million in revenue to $70 million in 2015, while employment rose from about 85 to 240. It’s certainly a growth curve most companies can’t point to.”

And ATC Automation is happy to stay put. “Every time we grow to the walls, we explore the options,” Bernhardt said. “Should the next facility be somewhere else in the world that would be more advantageous to us? We’ve probably gone through that process three or four times, but we’ve not found any other place that works as well with our model of business. We always come back to Cookeville.”

Bill Curran, right, ATC Automation general manager and VP, and Gene Bressler, vice president of sales and marketing, stand with one of the assembly lines being produced at ATC.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 2 1


WHITE COUNTY

Mark Ray, right, owner of Northfield Vineyards, and girlfriend, Vickie Denton, in front of the vats at the winery.

Northfield Vineyards WHY THE HIGHLANDS

“I love being here,” said Mark Ray, owner of Northfield Vineyards. That’s reason enough for Ray and his family – parents Glenn and Diana and sister Marty – to do business in the Highlands. The fact that they do so on a farm that’s been in the Ray family for well over a century is just icing on the cake. And what a delectable slice it is, nestled in

2 2 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

the lush countryside of White County. “I grew up here,” Ray said. “This was my great-grandfather’s farm, and we know it’s been in the family since 1904.” Maybe even longer. “We tracked it back that far in case we ever wanted it recognized as a Tennessee Century Farm,” he added, referring to the Center for Historic Preservation

program that honors and recognizes the dedication of families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years. Today, their crop is homemade wine.

MOST VALUABLE RESOURCES

It’s been nearly two years since the Rays transformed their family farm into what is now known as Northfield Vineyards.


“I’ve always enjoyed making wine,” said Ray, who became licensed in 2015 after several years of perfecting his craft for home use. “It’s just something we got into.” Customers come for their eight varieties of wine, including Niagara, Ol’ Black Izzy and Mule Shoe Muscadine, as well as jellies, butters, cheeses, relishes, candles, soaps and more.

particular, has played a key role in the operation’s swift success. “We benefit from Interstate 40 and Highway 111,” Ray said. “We definitely have a lot of people from Cookeville and Crossville — from all over — who come to see us.” The family also profits from a supportive environment of local leaders and chambers of commerce.

winery being in the community,” Ray said. “It’s gone over well. We’re staying booked.”

Grapes ready for harvest at Northfield Vineyards

REAPING THE DIVIDENDS

Ray described Northfield Vineyards as a “really simple” setup with its own special charm. And that’s the real reward. “If it grows, it grows — we’ll see — but I’m pretty happy with it the way it is,” he said. “It’s just got an inviting, small-farm atmosphere. Everybody who comes in really likes it.”

The winery is even a sought-after venue for weddings, family and class reunions, birthday parties and numerous other special occasions, with its large event room and outdoor area amid the grape vines. Old farm equipment adds to the atmosphere.

“Marvin Bullock here at the Sparta-White County Chamber of Commerce is always calling me with an idea,” Ray said. “Jeff Jones and other Cookeville chamber members have really helped, too. We’ve gotten a lot of Christmas parties from Cookeville businesses.”

Ray said the Highlands is the ideal location for Northfield Vineyards — and not just because of the area’s natural beauty. Infrastructure, roads in

The community has also been supportive.

“We would like to expand,” Ray said, referring to plans for adding a pavilion and even getting the family’s wines into area restaurants.

“People have received us well without being too fussy about a

“We’ve had our struggles, but everything has come together.”

That’s not to say, however, that the Rays aren’t open to bigger and better things.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 2 3


They still make things in Tennessee Even better, they make them in modern facilities that were once vacant, contaminated industrial sites.

How?

said John Hargraves, regional manager of PM Environmental’s Brownfield group. “We also work with the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD) in these capacities. Having the strength of a coalition of 14 counties and 50 municipalities is a powerful tool.”

With a little help from PM Environmental, an environmental risk expert that specializes in helping local companies take advantage of EPA Brownfield funding to grow their business and contribute to the local economy. When Jackson Kayak, a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of whitewater and fishing kayaks, needed to expand its operations, it chose a closed Phillips Luminaries plant in White County. PM Environmental worked with Jackson Kayak on the environmental due diligence and used EPA Brownfield funds to assess the property while entering into TDEC’s Voluntary Oversight and Assistance Program (VOAP).

PM Environmental performed all environmental due diligence and helped Jackson Kayak get EPA brownfield funding to open its newest location.

In addition, PM Environmental negotiated a Brownfield agreement, closed on the property, conducted public notifications and assessment activities and leveraged $6.5 million from County, State and Federal funding sources. As a result of the expansion, 300 new jobs were created in the area. “Throughout all of Tennessee and other states in the southeastern U.S., PM Environmental works with communities of all sizes to identify properties with potential for positive redevelopment,”

PM Environmental is making a number of cleanup and redevelopment projects possible in the Upper Cumberland using its Brownfield redevelopment and management services. The sites PM Environmental and UCDD have collaborated on have leveraged over $10 million in funds for environmental cleanup and redevelopment. Projects include the City of Cookeville redevelopment of the former Heritage Ford dealership into a public works facility and utilization of Fox Middle School in Jackson County as part of UCDD’s nutrition program, and also as a community and welcome center.

For more information about how PM Environmental can put its environmental, policy, and funding expertise to work for your organization, call 1-800-313-2966 or visit: www.pmenv.com.

To download an infographic explaining the benefits of participating in the Upper Cumberland Brownfields Initiative, go to www.pmenv.com/UCDD


Technology SECTION II

When it comes to technology, the Highlands region is remarkably advanced. Businesses in our region are getting access to fiber internet connections before even Nashville, and our local university, Tennessee Tech, has created a groundbreaking makerspace utilizing virtual reality technology and 3-D manufacturing to solve a variety of health, environmental and public safety needs. Tech is also graduating more computer science majors than even the metropolitan Chattanooga region. Add it all up, and you’ll see that we have tremendous capacity to serve the needs of technology-based companies considering a move to the Highlands.


TWIN L AKES

CONNECTING THE HIGHLANDS

Twin Lakes Gives Area Businesses Technological Edge

T

win Lakes, a legacy phone company that started in Gainesboro in 1951, has experienced exponential growth in recent years, transforming itself into an internet-focused multimedia company with an international customer base. Today, with a service area that covers 1,900 square miles in northern Middle Tennessee, the company provides technology-based products and services, with approximately 30,000 access lines offering a full range of telephone, broadband, interactive TV, security, cloud-based server, business and managed technology services. Twin Lakes has servers that receive signals for Hulu, Google, Netflix — as well as fiber

2 6 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

networks from Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas — connecting in their facilities. Their routers make the internet work for most of the region, independent of who one’s provider is. “This means that when you do a Google search, watch one of the 100,000 most-watched YouTube videos, upgrade your iPhone operating system or watch a movie on Netflix, it’s likely coming from our building, where servers are automatically updated nightly,” said Jonathan West, Twin Lakes general manager/CEO. Their newest project is their most impressive yet; Twin Lakes is converting all of the copper wires that go to the homes of their members to fiber optic

cables, and they’re offering fiber internet to businesses in Cookeville, as well, which means that the Highlands region will have access to lightning-fast, 1,000-megabit fiber connections before Google Fiber is even finished installing its fiber lines in Nashville. “We’ll have any service that any business could get in Nashville or Las Vegas or New York City, with no limitations on capacity and no additional cost,” said West. “So you can do your business, no matter how high tech it is, in Cookeville at no penalty for living in a better quality-of-life area.” Twin Lakes is a partner with nine other companies in owning IRIS, a statewide fiber network,


We’ll have any service that any business could get in Nashville or Las Vegas or New York City. GM/CEO JONATHAN W E ST

which means that they coown fiber optic facilities from the Bristol area of Virginia, to Memphis, down to Huntsville, into Atlanta and up to Bowling Green and Clarksville. West serves as chairman of the IRIS board. Fiber is not prone to lighting or other types of disruptions common to copper cable, which has been the Jonathan standard up unWest, Twin til now, because Lakes general manager/CEO, fiber is made stands in the of glass, so it server room at the Twin transmits data Lakes facility literally at the in Livingston, Tennessee. speed of light. This type of speed provides a big advantage for companies that must upload, download or send volumes of large files. In addition to this level of reliability, Twin Lakes is also able to customize its services to comply with the increased privacy, security and logistical needs certain businesses may have. “Say a big bank needs connec-

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 2 7


It’s a big transition for us, from what we would call a rural legacy telephone company of years gone by to being at the cutting edge of technology. GM/CEO JONATHAN WES T

tivity from point A to point B and doesn’t want it on the public internet because of Sarbanes-Oxley requirements, or a medical facility needs to transfer files while remaining in compliance with HIPPAA regulations,” said West. “They can’t put your private information out on the public internet, so we provide secure fiber optic connectivity between multiple buildings.” Fiber also offers an advantage in entertainment services like the high-definition, interactive

2 8 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

IPTV service Twin Lakes offers, which includes a lineup of more than 200 channels. “People like HD, and there’s ultra-high definition coming, so a fiber optic connection lets you do super-fast internet at the same time you’re watching 10 different TVs in ultra-high definition” said West. “So basically, fiber opens up a pathway for you, whether it’s for entertainment or data transfer.” Twin Lakes’ very newest product is cloud-based server systems

for businesses. The company went into partnership with several communications providers nationwide to buy a company called Codera, which is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and provides redundant, cloudbased servers located at data centers in Phoenix; Dallas; and Herndon, Virginia. “It’s really good for disaster recovery of businesses, because if you have a server in the corner and that roof leaks, or a tornado or a lightning storm, and your server was compromised, then your business is down,” said West. “And so we move that resource into the cloud and have redundant, up-all-the-time, never-out data storage.” Twin Lakes began offering its cloud-based storage service in April 2015, and they already


The Twin Lakes corporate office is located at 1003 South Grundy Quarles Highway in Gainesboro.

have more than 4,000 customers, including Delta Airlines. In addition to this service, the company also began offering security services in 2015 when it bought the former Security 7 company and Southern Security of America. “As the world changes and becomes more technology focused, mobile centric, video centric and internet centric, we try to shift to where our customers want us to be,” said West. “It’s a big transition for us, from what we would call a rural legacy telephone company of years gone by to being at the cutting edge of technology and even providing service to some of our competitors, oddly enough.” Having these kinds of services available in the Highlands is an important factor in attracting

business to the area, as this level of technology is rather unusual in a rural area and in a town the size of Cookeville. “Many of the companies the chambers interact with are expecting that they’re going to just have to live with what is here and that it might be a limitation,” said West. “Then they find out that it’s as fast or faster than what they have in Nashville or Dallas or Chicago, and we don’t charge an aid to construction cost to put it in, and I think it’s a surprising factor to them.” West, who is also chairman of the Highlands Economic Partnership, says that the positive business environment created by the Highlands has been instrumental in Twin Lakes’ success, as well as that of many other companies.

“I believe when people work together, more can be accomplished,” he said. “I think the Highlands is just the vehicle that enables these different entities to work together to find a common point, because it doesn’t always just naturally fit together. You have to create those synergies, and the Highlands allows us to create those synergies, pool some resources for the common good, and be there for each other.”

The main equipment room at Twin Lakes is filled with rows upon rows of servers and fiber-based equipment that provide internet and television service throughout the region.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 2 9


Kevin Liska, executive director at Tennessee Tech’s iCube, in the “Inspire” space.

ICUBE

I N S P I R E A N D I N N O VA T E

TTU’s iCube Virtual Reality Center

I

t’s a new way to learn, solve problems and create products.

Tennessee Tech University’s iCube, a sophisticated virtual reality center and “makerspace,” lets people see from the inside out. It’s a place where imagina-

3 0 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

tion comes to life through immersive research and learning. “Virtual reality allows you to immerse yourself in the concept or product you’re creating — to imagine them in ways you could never see otherwise,” said Kevin Liska, executive director

of TTU’s iCube. “The military uses it for simulation training. Teaching hospitals use it for medical training. The automotive industry uses it — Ford has a virtual reality ‘cave’ it uses for prototyping cars before actually building them. Virtual reality is a tool that’s been around a long


time, but not necessarily in the way we’re using it.” There are two ways to experience virtual reality at iCube: in a virtual reality “cave” or by wearing the Oculus Rift headset. Either way, you’re seeing 3-D projected images — holograms — created by content and design teams. Think of virtual reality as a play in which participants act out the role of virtually any character and move through virtually any kind of plot. What’s it like to be oxygen in a human body? Using Oculus Rift goggles, you’re entering the body through the mouth, going down the trachea, through the bronchioles and eventually into the lungs, veins, and into the heart, which starts pumping you around the body. You “see” actions as a participant — not a spectator. Projects are limited only by your imagination. Take a recent collaboration between TTU and LIFT, a lightweight manufacturing facility in Detroit, Michigan. TTU students created a 3-D game that allows players to build a car on a virtual reality assembly line — and then race it. Four main content areas drive most projects currently in development at the iCube: environmental conservation, healthcare visualization, advanced manufacturing and myriad public policy issues. Completing these

projects happens in a space designed to reflect the motto of iCube: “Imagine, Inspire, and Innovate.” In the Imagine space, the core of the virtual reality experience, students and clients are using the virtual reality cave and Oculus Rift goggles. This is where you try your concept on for size. In the Inspire space — a newsroom-type environment — you’re working and interacting with other clients on your ideas. And in the Innovate or iMakerSpace, you’re working with 3-D printers, robotics, and in a workshop with a lathe, plastic injection molding, CNC mill, drill press and saws — all the materials and tools required to build prototypes. The iCube team creates simulations like modeling traffic safety; protecting coral reefs; training teachers in best classroom practices; helping people understand the effects of smoking on the lungs; and showing the effects of diabetes in the heart, feet, eyes and brain to promote preventative care and maintenance. Pediatric diabetes is a current hot topic at the iCube. “We discovered that pediatric diabetes is a really big problem in this region,” said Liska. “In the Upper Cumberland, there are hundreds of kids with type-2 pediatric diabetes, which is

basically preventable. Kids and their parents, after diagnosis, are told about the importance of diet and exercise, but when the kids go to college, those lessons can disappear — kids tend to disconnect. And that has a lot of long-term negative effects.” “There’s a drop off, a point of no return,” said Amanda Ellis, an iCube coordinator. “Through virtual reality, we can experience the effects of excess sugar in the body. If you have too much sugar, it can cause a blockage and lead to a stroke, for example. So we’ll show what happens when glucose gets into the body, and a few different scenarios of what can happen once it passes that ‘point of no return’ and causes serious problems. If it’s not managed — or better yet, prevented — diabetes will cause permanent damage throughout your entire body.”

Tennessee Tech’s iCube, a sophisticated virtual reality center, lets people see from the inside out.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 3 1


A Tech student previews a virtual reality lung health module using Oculus Rift goggles at the iCube.

3 2 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

“So, with virtual reality,” said Liska, “we can take you inside the body; you can actually see the body from the inside out. We thought if we could show folks with diabetes what is happening inside their own bodies, the lesson gets across more effectively — the virtual reality of being inside the body drives that point home in a way nothing else can.

rating and figuring this out with computer programmers showing how to illustrate the content. Then we can go out and test it. We’re not pretending that this is factual. We’re thinking it might work. But we’ll research and test it, and if it does work, we’ll be applying a cutting-edge technology to help solve a really big problem.”

“This is an area we’re putting a lot of resources in, because it’s a major national problem,” said Liska. “What we do here is, we have the content folks collabo-

The application of virtual reality education will go viral by way of consumerism, said Liska, making the work that comes out of iCube even more relevant.

“Oculus Rift technology is going to ship with Xbox controllers. Within the next couple of years, basically every kid is going to be buying this because it’s driven by the gaming industry,” he said. “So all of a sudden, there’s this incredible platform out there, and we’re developers for that, so if we go after a national cause like pediatric diabetes, we have the potential to have hundreds, thousands, millions of people actually using what we’re developing for the general public good.”


A Partial List of iCube’s Clients BUSINESS »» Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation »» Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) »» Battelle »» Tennessee Aquarium »» Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry »» Tennessee Trucking Association

E D U C AT I O N »» Tennessee Board of Regents »» Tennessee Transfer Pathway »» TNeCampus.org »» MakerMinded.com »» ReduceTNcrashes.com »» Ollie Otter Seat Belt & Booster Seat Safety Program »» Tennessee Tech University »» SADD, Inc.

G OV E R N M E N T

The climate at Tennessee Tech, fertile ground for an entrepreneurial mindset and innovation, made iCube possible. “President Oldham, Vice President Soni [Research and Economic Development], and Dean Payne [College of Business] — they see this vision,” said Liska. “They see the value of interdisciplinary teamwork. It’s all the students working together; that’s the only way we can get new solutions, true innovation. People with different talents, people who think about things

differently, people who argue back and forth … that’s where the magic happens. It’s super-talented students and staff and faculty and other clients all working together in ways they’ve never worked together before, solving problems that are really complex, and applying really neat technology solutions and tools to the problems, but it’s also just really innovative thinking. So it’s a combination of students and staff coming up with ideas, and agencies coming to us saying, ‘Can you develop this?’”

»» Small Business Administration »» National Highway Traffic Safety Administration »» TN Department of Financial Institutions »» TN Highway Safety Office »» TN Department of Health »» TN Office of Homeland Security »» TN Department of Environment & Conservation »» Tennessee Reconnect

H E A LT H C A R E »» Tennessee Public Health Institute »» TN Department of Health »» Cookeville Regional Charitable Foundation »» National Safety Council

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 3 3


An iCube visitor examines a 3-D anatomical model in the iCube virtual reality cave.

Some of the concepts are classroom-driven — whether by a faculty member or students. Other projects are funded by grants from state government, school systems and businesses, including the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. “It’s a brand-new tool for commercial products,” said Liska. “This is pretty cutting edge for people starting a business. I imagine they’re starting to pop up, but most of the effort in virtual reality is in game development, so what we’re doing is applying that technology to public policy issues like traffic safety, environmental sustainability, healthcare, public education

3 4 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

and workforce development with advanced manufacturing capability. Those are not the normal applications of virtual reality. iCube is an expansion of business — of product development, of marketing. “If we do virtual reality right, we’re tackling grand challenges — things like the effects of climate change and pollution,” said Liska. “Back to diabetes — we have the ability to put folks inside the heart of a person who is at risk and see what’s happening. We’re doing the same thing with the eye, showing the effects of diabetes on vision. Being immersed in the body, we believe, is going to open

up incredible opportunities in healthcare visualization. Our third market is public safety challenges, like traffic safety, the effects of a chemical spill, or being in a mobile home as an F2 tornado engulfs it — so you’re in the mobile home as it’s being destroyed and realizing that there is no such thing as a safe place inside a mobile home when a tornado strikes. “And that realization, through immersive visualization, is very, very powerful,” said Liska. “We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to solve classic problems. We’ve proven how effective that is.”


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Amenities SECTION III

With its central location, affordable land, ready workforce and low tax burden, the Highlands is a prime setting for business and industry. Combine that with a new I-40 interchange, a regional airport and fully loaded business parks, and you’ve got the ingredients for flourishing commerce.


TRANSPORTATION

ON-RAMP TO PRO GRESS

Logistical Resources Abound in the Highlands

T

he road less traveled is a concept that doesn’t apply to the Highlands of Tennessee. Rather, the streets and highways that meander through this four-county region are traveled — and heavily so — offering industries an efficient, ever-evolving transportation system. “Most everybody on this side of the country can say they’re within a day’s drive of 80 percent of the population,” said Stephen Crook, vice president of economic development for the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. “What

3 8 • Highlands Economic Development Guide


Stephen Crook, vice president of economic development for the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, looks over the construction site of the new I-40 fifth interchange.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 3 9


The majority of our industrial sites and available properties are within half a mile of the interstate. That asset, combined with a firm vision of the future of transportation, gives us strategic advantages others don’t have. VP O F ECO N O M I C DEVELOPMENT S TEPHEN CROOK

sets us apart, however, in terms of transportation and logistics is the infrastructure we have at the state and federal levels.” And plenty have noticed. After all, such a network is the sustenance of any thriving enterprise, not to mention the American way of life, allowing for competitiveness in the global market which, in turn, contributes to a prosperous economy at home. That’s why businesses continue to take advantage — the Highlands advantage, that is. Those establishing themselves in Putnam, White, Overton and Jackson counties benefit from the strategic intersection of Highway 111 for shipping goods beyond Tennessee’s northern

40 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

and southern borders, while Interstate 40 provides the coastto-coast connection. Furthermore, numerous state and U.S. highways complete the circulatory flow between companies, their supply partners and, most importantly, customers. “The majority of our industrial sites and available properties are within half a mile of the interstate,” Crook said of Putnam County. “That asset, combined with a firm vision of the future of transportation, gives us strategic advantages others don’t have. It’s a vision we’re driven to capitalize on.” Crook highlighted three companies in particular that have profited from the Highlands’ transportation infrastructure,

the first being Cookeville’s Averitt Express, one of the largest trucking companies in the nation. Another operation, the food service center IWC, supplies nearly all the state’s school systems from its home base in Algood. And, most recently, Academy Sports + Outdoors became Tennessee’s largest distribution center under one roof, covering a million square feet in Cookeville’s industrial park. “That doesn’t happen by chance,” Crook said of these triumphs. “People have recognized our strengths.” The Tennessee Department of Transportation plays a vital part in the Highlands vision through continuous upgrades and a number of construction and redevelopment projects, including a new fifth interchange in Cookeville that is due for completion in October of 2017. “We have a great relationship with TDOT,” Crook said. “They continue to invest in different things.” As part of TDOT’s agreement to fund the fifth interchange — which was intended to provide a gateway into the new Highlands Business Park and other industrial lands “ripe for the picking” in the near future, as well as Tennessee Tech University and Cookeville Regional Medical Center — the City of Cookeville committed to extending a three-


mile connector road to Highway 70.

strument landing systems allow for landing day or night.

“It’s an exciting project — something the city has worked diligently to prepare,” Crook said. “We are so fortunate to have municipalities that are so invested in economic development and making sure the future of the Highlands is bright and sustainable.”

Overton and Jackson counties also offer air service with 5,000-foot and 3,500-foot runways, respectively. For any other travel needs, the Nashville International Airport is barely more than an hour away from Cookeville.

It isn’t just roads, though, that keep industries in Putnam, Overton, White and Jackson counties connected to the rest of the world. Air and rail transportation systems play a vital role, as well.

Railway service is another plus for the Highlands. “We are served by the Nashville and Eastern Railroad all the way to Monterey in Putnam County and throughout the region,” Crook said.

The Upper Cumberland Regional Airport, a 343-acre, public-use airport in White County, offers corporate convenience with its 6,700-foot asphalt runway.

Putnam’s Cookeville, Baxter and Algood also have tracks, while White County is served by the Caney Fork & Western Railroad. Overton and Jackson are in close proximity to rail service.

“It’s growing and booming,” Crook said.

“The ability to hook up with Class 1 lines within an hour or two is very beneficial for some of our companies,” Crook said.

Adjacent to Highway 111 and less than four miles from I-40, the airport is jointly owned by the cities of Cookeville and Sparta and counties of Putnam and White. It has capacity for general aviation planes as well as large jets and offers aviation fuel. Global positioning and in-

Transportation-related resources also figure into the Highlands equation. For example, just having a trucking company like Averitt Express at the local level is ideal for companies looking to save time and money.

“Averitt’s ability to work with transportation infrastructure across the state and internationally has really benefitted a lot of companies,” Crook said. “They’re one of the first contacts given to any business coming here. It’s a logistical advantage.”

Construction crews clear the way for Cookeville’s fifth interchange on I-40.

Another example is Cumberland Container, a cardboard box manufacturer in Monterey — and the list goes on and on. “We have a lot of different companies that can provide different things,” Crook said. “We truly believe the companies that give us a look are going to reap some great benefits. So many of those that come here are just lauded with praise in their first year of operations. They’re in a new market and are able to capture a whole lot of revenue they wouldn’t have otherwise expected.” For example, O’Charley’s, Tractor Supply and Lowe’s were each ranked No. 1 at different points in their respective markets, and Planet Fitness had the fastest enrollment of any Planet Fitness in the state. Crook said, “That was because our labor, trade and overall business markets are a lot bigger than they appear on paper.”

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 4 1


Melinda Keifer, economic and community development coordinator for the City of Cookeville, stands along the roadway of the Highlands Business Park.

BUSINESS PARKS

PARTNERSHIP IN MIND

Three County Developments to Facilitate Business and Industry

T

o develop new opportunities for business, the cities and counties of the Highlands snapped up prime real estate — acreage with premium access to interstates and highways and a regional airport. And while there’s abundant private land available in the four

42 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

counties of the Highlands, the publicly owned business parks offer the right mix of infrastructure and transportation networks to businesses looking for a location immediately suited for everything from distribution and data centers to commercial/ industrial manufacturing. Business parks are a key ele-

ment of the Highlands Initiative, the master plan for economic development for the four counties of the Highlands. “Business parks play a critical role in our future,” said George Halford, CEO of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. “Unless there is


controlled industrial property for sale, we’re not even in the game. It’s akin to walking into a new car dealership, wanting to buy, and there are no cars to drive off the lot today. Prospects want property now. Time is a deciding factor in any deal. That’s what we can offer businesses.” Five publicly owned business parks are located in three of the Highlands counties. In a nutshell, here are attributes of each park:

HIGHLANDS BUSINESS PARK

manufacturer, Ficosa, broke ground there in 2015, occupying 47 acres. Ficosa’s state-of-the-art facility measures 270,000 square feet; production is primarily rear-view mirrors. Adjacent to the park is the new 200-acre property of Academy Sports + Outdoors, which opened a 1.6-million-square-foot distribution center in 2016. A major feature of the Highlands Park is environmental sustainability. The city and county took on the restoration of wetlands and streams, built storm water bioswales and carved out a linear walking trail.

Cookeville-Putnam County

A 224-acre park with direct access to I-40 and a connection to U.S. Hwy. 70 under construction in 2016. A Spanish automotive

from SR 111 and I-40. The park, with tenants including Hutchinson, has 14 acres of publicly owned land remaining available for sale.

OVERTON COUNTY INDUSTRIAL PARK

A 125-acre park also located minutes from SR 111 and I-40. The park is almost fully developed, with tenants including ABC Inoac and Parker Seals. A 10-acre, privately owned parcel is all that remains available.

STATE ROUTE 111 INDUSTRIAL PARK Overton County

LIVINGSTON INDUSTRIAL PARK Overton County

A 75-acre park located minutes

A 165-acre park is adjacent to SR 111 and only minutes from I-40. A hydroponic agribusiness, Tanimura & Antle, covers 125 acres.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 4 3


The Highlands Business Park features storm water bioswales and a linear walking trail.

The Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation has a 40-megawatt substation under construction on six acres. Fitzgerald Glider Kits purchased the remaining acreage in 2015 and has since constructed two 50,000-square-foot industrial buildings, with a third building planned.

UPPER CUMBERLAND REGIONAL AIRPORT AND BUSINESS PARK Sparta-White County

A 62.5-acre park located minutes from U.S. 111 and I-40. All acreage available. A 15-acre section of the park includes a 50,000-square-foot shell with 30-foot eave heights and an additional 4,000 square feet of office space. The building has

44 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

a pad ready for expansion to 100,000 square feet, is ready for customization for floor depth, door and dock-door placement, and has all infrastructure in place, with exclusive electric and fiber available. The Upper Cumberland Regional Airport, jointly owned by Putnam and White counties, boasts a 6,700-foot asphalt runway with capacity for large jets — and it’s also a great neighbor, with no complaints about noise levels. The Highlands partnership means that each of the partner counties stays cognizant of which park might be the best fit for prospective companies. “Every prospect we respond to, we talk about the demographics in Overton County, and then we

also talk about the demographics in the four-county Highlands area,” said Ray Evans, economic development consultant for Livingston and Overton County. “We have had a couple of opportunities where a prospect was looking at a site in both Putnam County and Overton County, and we as the Highlands decided that rather than look as if we were competing counties, we would jointly present both locations. So we take a real regional initiative approach to a prospect.” Academy Sports + Outdoors was the first major business to locate in Putnam County on property adjacent to the new Highlands Business Park as a result of the Highlands Initiative. “It took all of us to make the


Academy project come to fruition,” said Melinda Keifer, economic and community development coordinator for the City of Cookeville. “From our environmental engineer helping them write their permit, to making sure they understood what it was going to take to get their sewer the way they wanted it, to the property owner who had everything to gain and everything to lose at the same time, but trusted us, I think that truly set us apart. I don’t think there’s a team that could beat us across the state. “And so, to that end, no one’s taking for granted the fact that we work well together,” Keifer said. “What Academy would tell you is that it all comes down to people. Communities can offer incentives, and we all have the same attributes, so when you get right down to it, where is your tipping point? And for them, it was the community and the people.”

These public-private partnerships — government entities reaching out to businesses — can be a wonderful mechanism and tool, said White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson. At their most successful, these relationships make it clear that everyone involved has a genuine interest in the well-being of the other.

and community pushing for the same goal,” Robinson said. “We take care of the businesses we already have and those coming in. The ultimate goal for all of us — business, government, the community — is raising the standard of living for everyone. We all want the next generation to have it better than we did.”

“It’s good when you’ve got private industry and the county

It’s good when you’ve got private industry and the county and community pushing for the same goal.

WHITE COU NTY EXECU TIVE DENNY WAYNE ROBINS ON

The Upper Cumberland Regional Business Park in White County features 62.5 acres for business development and a 50,000square-foot spec building.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 4 5


STATISTICS

LOCAL INCENTIVES

P

rojects involving a significant capital investment and number of new jobs may qualify for the region’s agressive incentive program. Incentives are offered to both new and expanding properties. In order for the Highlands Economic Partnership’s economic

development team to determine if your project is eligible to receive incentives, we will need to know the following general project information: total proposed capital investment, number of net new jobs to be created, and wages of the newly created jobs.

The Highlands’ economic development team will work with your company to create a flexible incentive that meets your needs. For futher information concerning local incentives, please contact scrook@highlandsoftn.com.

PROPERTY TAX

Residential Industrial Personal /$100

JACKSON COUNTY

25%

40%

30%

$2.85

Gainesboro 25% 40% 30% $0.51 OVERTON COUNTY

*

Livingston * PUTNAM COUNTY

25%

*

*

*

* *

*

40%

30%

$2.805

Algood

25% 40% 30% $0.5123

Baxter

25% 40% 30% $1.541

Cookeville 25% 40% 30% $0.90 Monterey 25% 40% 30% $1.20 WHITE COUNTY Sparta

25%

40%

30%

$2.28

25% 40% 30% $1.05

INVENTORY TAX

School

Sales

Hotel

Bonded Debt

Assessed Valuation

JACKSON COUNTY

-

2.75%

-

$12,500,000

$143,009,947

2.75% -

-

$14,979,254

*

*

*

*

*

* *

*

2.75%

6.00%

$86,297,796

$917,000,471 $39,914,626

Gainesboro - OVERTON COUNTY

*

Livingston * PUTNAM COUNTY

-

Algood

-

2.75% -

-

Baxter

-

2.75%

-

$2,107,047 $10,605,666

Cookeville

-

2.75%

-

$19,125,200 $686,674,647

Monterey

-

2.75%

-

$5,702,686 $16,397,636

-

2.25%

5.00%

$15,959,874

-

2.25%

0

$2,475,300 $80,766,716

WHITE COUNTY Sparta

46 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

$287,690,720


UTILITIES

Livingston

TREATED WATER

Algood

Baxter

Cookeville Monterey

Sparta

Source

City of Livingston

Center Hill Lake

Center Hill Lake

Center Hill Lake

Monterey Lake

Calfkiller River

Capacity

4M GPD

15 MGD

15 MGD

15 MGD

1 MGD

4.5M GPD

Current Consumption

2M GPD

10 MGD

10 MGD

10 MGD

0.625 MGD

2.7M GPD

Storage Capacity

4.5M Gallons

10M Gallons

10M Gallons

10M Gallons

1.7M Gallons

3.55M Gallons

SEWAGE TREATMENT

Type of Treatment

Activated sludge

Oxidation Ditch

Oxidation Ditch

Oxidation Ditch

Two-stage trickling filter

Secondary

Capacity

1.5-5.5M GPD

14 MGD

14 MGD

14 MGD

1.2 MGD

1.6M GPD

Current Usage

700K GPD

7 MGD

7 MGD

7 MGD

0.45 MGD

950K GPD

City Sewer Coverage

80%

90% 90% 90% 75%

87%

Storm Sewer Coverage

50%

20% 20% 20% 5%

30%

Solid Waste Disposals

Yes

Yes Yes Yes Yes

County landfill

Cookeville Dept. of Elec.

UC Elec Membership Corp.

Cookeville Dept. of Elec.

Sparta Electric System

Cookeville Dept. of Elec.

TVA

TVA

TVA

Caney Fork Electric Coop.

ELECTRICITY Electric Power System

TVA

Additional Power System Source Company GAS

TVA

Gas Supplier

Livingston Gas Dept.

City of Cookeville

Middle TN Natural Gas

City of Cookeville

Middle TN Natural Gas

Source Company

East TN Natural Gas Co.

East TN Natural Gas

East TN Natural Gas

East TN Natural Gas

East TN Natural Gas Co.

Fuel Oil Supplies

3

4 4 4

2

Suppliers of LP Gas

4

1 1 1

2

TRANSPORTATION

Gainesboro Livingston

Algood

RAILROADS

None None

NERR NERR NERR NERR

Baxter

Cookeville Monterey

Sparta Caney Fork & Western

INTERSTATES I-40

I-40

I-40 I-40 I-40 I-40

I-40

HIGHWAYS

53, 56

52, 84, 85, 11, 136

70, 111, 11, 42, 135, 136 70, 111, 11, 42, 135, 136 70, 111 42, 135, 136

70, 111, 1,289, 135, 136, 84

0

0

1 1 1 0

1

Motor Freight Companies 10

12

20 20 20 10

4

Terminal Facilities

0

1

1 1 1 0

1

Bus Services - Inter-City

No

Yes

Yes Yes Yes No

No

Carrier Service

Yes

Yes

Yes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

River

Cumberland River

Cumberland River

Cumberland River

Cumberland River

Channel Depth

9’

9’

9’ 9’ 9’ 9’

9’

Nearest Port

Nashville 75mi

Gainesboro 24mi

Gainesboro 15mi

Gainesboro 30mi

Gainesboro 30mi

1A7 3mi

8A3 2mi

SRB 12mi

SRB 17mi

SRB 12mi

SRB 12mi

SRB 9mi

Runway Lengths

3,500’

5,000’

6,000’ 6,000’ 6,000’ 6,000’

6,000’

Surface

Asphalt

Asphalt

Asphalt

Asphalt Asphalt Asphalt

Asphalt

Transportation

No

Taxi

Taxi, Rental, Courtesy

Taxi, Rental, Courtesy

Taxi, Rental, Courtesy

Taxi, Rental, Courtesy

Taxi, Rental, Courtesy

Airlines Serving

17 lines/100 markets 17 lines/100 markets

17 lines/100 markets

17 lines/100 markets

17 lines/100 markets

17 lines/100 markets

17 lines/100 markets

Daily Flights

415

415 415 415 415

CARRIERS Air Freight Companies

70, 84, 62, 164

WATER

FLIGHT General Aviation

415

Cumberland River

Gainesboro 15mi

Cumberland River

Gainesboro 15mi

Cumberland River

415

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 4 7


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The Office of Research & Economic Development www.tntech.edu/research phone: (931) 372-3374 48 • Highlands Economic Development Guide


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Workforce SECTION IV

Better jobs…better earnings…a higher quality of life. These are the essential elements of a bright future in any region. Thanks to our community’s strong leadership and teamwork, these elements have come together in a most impressive way in the Highlands to create a workforce that is increasingly well trained and ready to work.


WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

SEALING THE DEAL

Initiatives for Better Jobs, Better Pay and Higher Quality of Life

A

higher quality of life … that’s what the Highlands Workforce Development and Education Committee is all about — a better life for individuals and businesses alike. Composed of both business and education leaders of the Highlands area, the committee is a collaborative public/private sector program designed to boost economic and community development in Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White counties. “The thing that’s different about workforce development is we all sit around this table,” said White County Director of Schools Sandra Crouch. “It’s everybody working together, weaving, toward that goal. There are not that many organizations that have that kind of camaraderie.” This committee is a part of the Highlands Economic Partnership (HEP), a multi-county economic development organization focused on activities that support existing industry as well as attracting new industry to the area. A vital component of these

5 2 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

activities is workforce development and education. “To be successful in economic development,” said Lillian Hartgrove, Highlands Workforce Development and Education vice president, “it’s not just about having good land that’s already developed or the perfect and ideal building. It is about your human capital, your human resources, which are the people who live here. Having a well-trained and well-educated workforce is key to being successful.” Since its formation in 2008, the Highlands Workforce Development and Education Committee has been creating positive changes in our community. Its newest initiative is the Upper Cumberland Tennessee Reconnect Community (UC TRC), a fresh, new approach to encouraging and enabling adults who want to complete their postsecondary education. This program focuses on adults 25 to 64 years of age who have some college credits but stopped

short of completing a degree. The Upper Cumberland is one of only three Tennessee communities to receive one of the initial grants awarded by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to create a Reconnect Community. TRCs are locally based collaboratives focused on empowering adults to complete an already-begun postsecondary degree or certificate. Each TRC is a partnership made up of community leaders, higher education institutions and employers. The TRCs provide individuals with free advising, career counseling and support to help them achieve their degrees. Advisors serve as guides for the participants through the unfamiliar and perhaps difficult road to obtaining a college degree. Many of these individuals halted their college progress because of obstacles such as family, need for full-time work or other hardships. “We are about overcoming those obstacles,” said Cindy Taylor,


Lillian Hartgrove, left, Highlands Workforce Development and Education vice president, and Sandra Crouch, White County director of schools, explore the Mechatronics Lab at Cookeville High School.

Even though it sounds like we’re talking about an education initiative, what we’re truly talking about is economics. D I REC TO R C I N DY TAY LO R

UC TRC director. “We are about turbo-charging your future — taking charge of where you are and moving forward.” Tennessee Reconnect Communities are a part of the Governor’s Drive to 55 initiative to ensure 55 percent of Tennesseans are equipped with a college degree or certification by 2025. “The only way to reach the goal of 55 percent is to reconnect with adults,” Taylor said. “It can’t be reached only through graduating high school students.” There are more than 34,000 adults in the 14-county Upper

Cumberland area who have taken some college classes but don’t have a degree. The goal of the UC TRC is to serve 400 of these adults per year, with 4,000 served by 2025. The UC TRC will host multiple launch events for the region, inviting adult learners to attend gatherings where they will meet advisors and representatives from higher education institutions and where they will find resources to assist them in the re-enrollment process. “Even though it sounds like we’re talking about an education initiative, what we’re truly

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 5 3


Equipment in the Mechatronics Lab at Cookeville High School

talking about is economics,” said Taylor. “We are building a strong, viable workforce.” While Tennessee Reconnect Communities focuses on adults, many of the Highlands Workforce Development and Education Committee’s other programs are geared toward young people who are still making decisions that affect their future education and employability. The programs, or subcommittees, include Pathways to Prosperity; the Eighth Grade Career Fair; the Parental Engagement Program; the Speakers Program; and the Tennessee Scholars Program.

PATHWAYS TO PROSPERITY

The Upper Cumberland was one of two regions selected by the Tennessee Department of Education to join the Pathways to Prosperity network. The goal of this program, launched by the national education non-

5 4 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

profit Jobs for the Future and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, is to improve the education attainment level and job readiness of our future workforce by enhancing training, education and skill development, and providing students with work-based learning opportunities. To identify pathways for implementation in the Highlands school districts and in post-secondary education, the committee reviewed Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce statistics and obtained feedback from area employers. As a result, the four original Highlands counties — Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White — plus Clay and Warren counties, have implemented health science and pre-engineering/advanced manufacturing pathways in their school districts. The committee is launching an Information Technology Pathways this year and will regularly review high

growth job sectors for launching new pathways as trends change.

EIGHTH-GRADE CAREER FAIR

The annual career fair for eighth graders attempts to reach students before high school and prior to their making career decisions or opting out of school altogether. The event is designed to help students transition into high school and realize the importance of the link between education and career opportunities. The career fair reaches approximately 1,400 eighth graders from Putnam, Jackson, Overton and White counties. Students are given an interest inventory assessment in order to narrow their focus and interests. Then, during the career fair, in addition to hearing a presentation by a keynote speaker and seeing informational displays from employers from throughout the region, they attend sessions in


which they hear professionals in their areas of interest share detailed job information including specific duties, pay scale, education and training requirements.

PARENTAL ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM

The Parental Engagement Program approaches the task of assisting parents of K-12 students with issues their children may experience that can potentially affect their grades or cause them to drop out. This program enables parents who lack the time to attend parent meetings at their child’s school to attend meetings and workshops at their place of employment or view the sessions online. Session topics include bullying, drug awareness, communication, family dynamics, risky behavior, social media, peer pressure, teen trends, understanding testing, self-esteem and more.

SPEAKERS PROGRAM

TENNESSEE SCHOLARS PROGRAM

The Tennessee Scholars program encourages students to take more demanding classes in high school. In order to graduate as a Tennessee Scholar, students must not only take a rigorous course of study and maintain a “C” average, but also have at least 95-percent attendance, 80 hours of community service and no out-of-school suspension during high school. The number of students graduating as Tennessee Scholars is increasing each year, most recently with a 40-percent increase. This highly motivated group of high school graduates is expected to continue its impressive growth in the future.

ence, offering a brighter future for our businesses, residents and children. Hartgrove attributes much of the success of the committee to the commitment of the businesspeople and educators coming together to make a difference in the community. “We are knocking down the barriers to communication,” said Hartgrove. “Those connections don’t happen by accident. Each person is passionate and committed to the work. They come willingly to make their individual contribution, allowing us to have a comprehensive approach to preparing the workforce.”

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

The initiatives of the Workforce Development and Education Steering Committee are continuing to make a lasting differ-

The Speakers Program brings different community leaders to schools to speak with middle school students who are participating in after-school programs. Speakers consist of business owners, community leaders and other business professionals who speak to students about the importance of graduating from high school, preparing for an education and thinking about career choices. Annually, 50 different businesspeople speak with 2,600 students about their career journey.

Equipment in the Mechatronics Lab at Cookeville High School

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 5 5


Becky Hull, right, executive director at Cookeville Higher Education Campus, talks with student Shawna Martin.

CHEC

A SINGULAR COLLABORATION

Integrating Pathways of Study

T

he Highlands is breaking new ground in workforce development and education by making progressive changes that are gaining attention on a statewide and even national level, all in an effort to answer the simple question,

5 6 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

“What can we do to offer our students the best opportunities?” A shining example of these changes is the Cookeville Higher Education Campus, the first institution of its kind in the

state. CHEC, as it is known, was implemented in 2015 to offer the region a broader selection of programs and to increase students’ opportunities to further their educations and careers. Currently consisting of Volun-


Cookeville Higher Education Campus is located at 1000 Neal Street in Cookeville.

teer State Community College, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) and Tennessee Tech University, CHEC works in close collaboration with national and statewide educational initiatives such as Pathways to Prosperity, Tennessee Reconnect, Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Transfer as part of a singular collaboration to educate our citizens, raising the quality of life across the region. “CHEC has no students and no faculty, and it doesn’t offer degrees, but the institutions we bring into our space do have faculty and offer degrees,” said CHEC Executive Director Becky Hull. “We’re the facilitator, the driving force behind bringing in the innovative ideas. We’re pulling the strengths from everyone, and our students are getting the benefit.” The unique collaboration allows students to come to one place and select from a multitude of educational pathways, with the member institutions working cooperatively to offer students more courses and increased

flexibility close to home. “It’s a beautiful facility, and it lends itself very easily to setting up this one-stop shop where students can come in and get the information they need so they don’t have to run all over the place trying to find all of the bits and pieces and put them together,” said Hull. “It’s all here, and we’ve already put it together for them.” Right now, CHEC is strongly focused on the Highlands Economic Partnership’s Pathways to Prosperity program, administered through the Highlands Workforce Development and Education Committee in collaboration with the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. “The short synopsis of that is, a student can get on a pathway beginning at the TCAT level for a post-secondary credential, and they can go from TCAT into a two-year program and from the two-year program into the four-year program, or they can choose to get off the pathway at any point,” said Hull.

We’re pulling the strengths from everyone, and our students are getting the benefit. EXECU TIVE DIRECTOR B ECK Y H U LL

CHEC is especially invested in furthering the three “pathways” chosen by the Workforce Development and Education Committee as being most beneficial to our area: nursing, advanced manufacturing/engineering and computer programming technology. Funding for many of CHEC’s courses is available through the Tennessee Promise program, and CHEC, along with several community partners, also offer scholarships to qualifying students.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 5 7


Becky Hull, right, executive director at Cookeville Higher Education Campus, works with student Shawna Martin in the CHEC computer lab.

“Southeast Bank has been a tremendous partner,” said Hull. “They offer a $3,000-per-year scholarship, which would pay for a student’s entire tuition here. And then, if the student decides to go from a two-year to a fouryear school, they get to take those funds with them to the four-year school, and it becomes $5,000.” CHEC’s cooperative concept also serves nontraditional students very well, especially those who wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable going to a four-year school. “We’re very strongly involved in Tennessee Reconnect, which is for folks within the Upper Cumberland age 24-65 who have some college work but no credential,” said Hull. “We’ve been partnering with the Workforce Development and Education Committee on that.” CHEC also administers the area’s dual enrollment programs, which allow high school students to concurrently earn high school and college credits that automatically transfer to a

5 8 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

bachelor’s degree program. Other ways CHEC is reaching out to serve the community’s needs include an apprenticeship program and a variety of shortterm workforce development classes, such as a computer programming class recently offered to Twin Lakes employees. For these classes, CHEC offers class coordination, instructors and facilities, if needed.

“I think people would be very surprised if they realized how many conferences we have here because it’s a great facility and it’s easily accessible.”

“If, for example, it’s a CNC class, we can look at who best would be able to teach that,” said Hull. “Then we approach them about offering that training to the particular company that’s interested. The businesses can send their employees here for the training, or we can go to them, because sometimes they can’t let everybody leave all at once.”

Cooperation among individuals and organizations is perhaps the key reason the CHEC concept has been so successful, according to Hull. When the individuals involved in the various programs attend conferences together, the question asked the most by people from other states is, “How do you get everybody to work together like that?” “We are just so surprised by that question, because we never considered any other option,” said Hull. “We just want what’s best for the Upper Cumberland, not what’s best for us individually in the short term, because when we rise, we all rise together.”

For businesses needing conference or meeting space, CHEC has that covered, too. “Our space accommodates between 75 and 100, and then we also have a conference room that will accommodate 20, and we have audiovisual technology and a kitchen,” said Hull.

CHEC hopes to soon begin offering short-term community courses like “iPads for Seniors” and possibly father-daughter and mother-son cooking classes, among others.


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STATISTICS

WORKFORCE DATA

LABOR FORCE LABOR FORCE ESTIMATES FOR HIGHLANDS REGION

Labor Shed

POPULATION (2014)

329,673 74,165 22,028 26,301 11,568

Putnam

Overton

White

Jackson

LABOR FORCE

138,593 32,572 8,998

11,246 4,430

Employed

130,732 30,949 8,432

10,682 4,127

Unemployed

7,861 1,623 566 564 303

Unemployment Rate

5.7% 5.0% 6.3% 5.0% 6.8%

TN AVAILABLE LABOR ESTIMATES

8,650 1,780 620 610

340

Discouraged

570 120 40 40 20

Unemployed

7,850 1,620 570 560 300

Partially Unemployed

230

40

10

10

20

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES (2014-2015)

3,165 805 215 270

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATE (2015)

92% 93% 91% 94% 85%

COLLEGE GOING RATE (2014)

49% 54% 42% 47% 47%

EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT OF AGES 25-64

106

Population with High School Diploma and Higher

138,518/84.1% 31,527/89.3%

9,387/83.2%

11,249/84.1%

4,919/79.9%

Population with Bachelor’s Degree and Higher

25,821/15.7% 8,474/24.0%

1,426/12.6%

1,775/13.3%

685/11.1%

ESTIMATED POPULATION BY SEX (2014) Male

49.2% 49.4% 49.3% 48.8% 50.1%

Female

50.8% 50.6% 50.7% 51.2% 49.9%

ESTIMATED POPULATION AGE 25-64 (2014)

164,740 35,295 11,279 13,377 6,158

SOURCE: US Census Bureau, TN Department of Labor and Workforce Development

WAGES INCOME AND POVERTY FOR HIGHLANDS REGION, TN Median Household Income Per Capita Income Total Poverty Rate

Poverty Rate Under 18

Poverty Rate 5 To 17 (In Families)

HIGHLANDS REGION

N/A

$32,238

N/A

N/A

N/A

Jackson County, TN

$35,379

$34,379

23.4

35.1

34.0

Overton County, TN

$35,884

$28,279

18.9

26.5

24.2

Putnam County, TN

$37,693

$34,077

20.8

25.9

25.8

White County, TN

$35,400

$29,430

21.9

29.7

29.5

SOURCE: US Census Bureau

60 • Highlands Economic Development Guide


TOP FIVE EMPLOYERS

INTERNATIONAL EMPLOYERS IN THE HIGHLANDS NIELSEN & BAINBRIDGE LLC

91

ANSEI

ANSEI AMERICA INC.

30

Jackson

DUTCH CRAFT MATTRESS CO.

21

EATON AEROQUIP INC.

8

ABC INOAC

TENNESSEE SPRING VALLEY INC.

6

Overton PARKER HANNIFIN Overton

FLEXIAL

HUTCHINSON FTS INC. (PLANT 1)

400

HYDROSERRE TENNESSEE LLC

300

EATON AEROQUIP INC.

204

LINDT

HUTCHINSON FTS INC. (PLANT 2)

175

Putnam

PARKER SEALS

170

Putnam

DACCO-TRANSTAR Putnam TTI FLOORCARE

Putnam

TENNESSEE TECH UNIVERSITY

2,400

COOKEVILLE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER

1,600

FICOSA

PERDUE FARMS

1,376

Putnam

AVERITT EXPRESS

665

CUMMINS FILTRATION INC.

600

GENLYTE THOMAS GROUP LLC

299

FEDERAL MOGUL LIGHTING

252

MOELLER MARINE PRODUCTS

222

TRI-STATE DISTRIBUTION INC.

195

LTD PARTS INC (VISTEON)

158

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 61


COMMUTING PATTERNS INFLOW/OUTFLOW JOB COUNTS FOR HIGHLANDS REGION, TN

Count Share

Employed in the Selection Area

43,590

100.0%

Living in the Selection Area

46,569

106.8%

Net Job Inflow (+) or Outflow (-)

-2,979

-

Living in the Selection Area

46,569

100.0%

Living and Employed in the Selection Area

28,676

61.6%

Living in the Selection Area but Employed Outside

17,893

38.4%

Employed in the Selection Area

43,590

100.0%

Employed and Living in the Selection Area

28,676

65.8%

Employed in the Selection Area but Living Outside

14,914

34.2%

External Jobs Filled by Residents

17,893

100.0%

Workers Aged 29 or Younger

4,799

26.8%

Workers Aged 30 to 54

9,407

52.6%

Workers Aged 55 or Older

3,687

20.6%

Workers Earning $1,250 per Month or Less

4,636

25.9%

Workers Earning $1,251 to $3,333 per Month

7,598

42.5%

Workers Earning More Than $3,333 per Month

5,659

31.6%

Workers in the “Goods Producing” Industry Class

2,953

16.5%

Workers in the “Trade, Transportation, and Utilities” Industry Class

5,546

31.0%

Workers in the “All Other Services” Industry Class

9,394

52.5%

IN-AREA LABOR FORCE EFFICIENCY (PRIMARY JOBS)

IN-AREA EMPLOYMENT EFFICIENCY (PRIMARY JOBS)

OUTFLOW JOB CHARACTERISTICS (PRIMARY JOBS)

62 • Highlands Economic Development Guide


Count Share

INFLOW JOB CHARACTERISTICS (PRIMARY JOBS) Internal Jobs Filled by Outside Workers

14,914

100.0%

Workers Aged 29 or Younger

4,337

29.1%

Workers Aged 30 to 54

7,677

51.5%

Workers Aged 55 or Older

2,900

19.4%

Workers Earning $1,250 per Month or Less

4,414

29.6%

Workers Earning $1,251 to $3,333 per Month

6,345

42.5%

Workers Earning More Than $3,333 per Month

4,155

27.9%

Workers in the “Goods Producing” Industry Class

2,607

17.5%

Workers in the “Trade, Transportation, and Utilities” Industry Class

4,401

29.5%

Workers in the “All Other Services” Industry Class

7,906

53.0% INTERIOR FLOW JOB CHARACTERISTICS (PRIMARY JOBS) Internal Jobs Filled by Residents

28,676

100.0%

Workers Aged 29 or Younger

6,250

21.8%

Workers Aged 30 to 54

15,975

55.7%

Workers Aged 55 or Older

6,451

22.5%

Workers Earning $1,250 per Month or Less

6,195

21.6%

Workers Earning $1,251 to $3,333 per Month

13,571

47.3%

Workers Earning More Than $3,333 per Month

8,910

31.1%

Workers in the “Goods Producing” Industry Class

7,306

25.5%

Workers in the “Trade, Transportation, and Utilities” Industry Class

4,885

17.0%

Workers in the “All Other Services” Industry Class

16,485

57.5%

SOURCE: US Census Bureau, On the Map

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 6 3


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Tech Connection SECTION V

Go to college. Get an education. Live the dream. It’s the vision of every career-minded student — one that’s been realized by many a tassel turner at Tennessee Tech University. Some take their talents to employers. Others burn with the spirit of entrepreneurship, seeking to put their creative energies into something all their own. The latter sort has been the special ingredient for numerous businesses in the Highlands — companies like Epic Technologies, Mid-South Industrial Automation, Franklin Fixtures and Research Electronics International. Discover how TTU helped shape the leaders of these successful operations, as well as how the university continues to be a resource for their endeavors.


CLOUD COMPUTING

Don Viar, right, consults with an employee at G&L Metals, an Epic client.

Epic Technologies It seems the sky is the limit for a Tennessee Tech University graduate with his head in the clouds. Computer clouds, that is.

I

t’s a concept Don Viar, managing partner with Epic Technologies — a business that specializes in industrial technology support — could never have envisioned when he bought into the fledgling Cookeville enterprise in 2000. “We’re a major player in cloud

66 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

computing,” he said, referring to the new internet-based technology that takes the place of servers, data storage and desktop devices through shared, on-demand processing resources. “Why invest tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment that’s going to depreciate when a high-end

data center can host it for you? It’s the future of technology.” Viar holds two degrees from TTU — management information systems, which he earned in 1992, and a master’s in business administration, 1994. His professional experience goes back to the early days of computer technology, from the late ’80s to the early ’90s, when many businesses were just starting the transition from paper-based accounting to basic computerized systems.


Viar helps a client configure an information system.

It’s tough to overstate By the time he took over Epic Technologies, the business had yet to find its niche. “We were into everything,” Viar recalled. “We built hardware from scratch.” Today, Epic’s primary focus is IT support — including business-class phone systems and cloud computing — for smalland medium-sized companies nationwide, mostly in the medical field. Viar said his TTU education laid the foundation for his success in an ever-changing business environment. “It’s tough to overstate how much Tech has helped me, both

while I was in school and even today with networking and things of that nature,” he said. “The level of education I received was by far the best return on an investment I could ever have fathomed.” Despite drastic advances in technology since his TTU days, Viar feels he was equipped to adapt.

how much Tech has helped me, both while I was in school and even today. MANAGING PARTN E R DO N VI AR

“Tech gave me such a phenomenal tool set,” he said. “It was all so practical, so foundational. Even today, my education continues to be a blessing to me in everything from critical thinking skills to evaluation processes. It’s just really put me on a good path.”

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 67


MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Mid-South Industrial Automation Tennessee Tech graduates Jason Flynn and Eric Smith know a thing or two about mechanical engineering — enough to make a successful career of it.

T

heir company, Mid-South Industrial Automation, which employs around 45 engineers, automation specialists and tool makers in Cookeville, is a global operation. “Our core customer base is Southeastern, but we’ve developed networks in South America, Mexico, Canada, China, Ireland and India,” Flynn, company vice president, said. “We have quite a bit of equipment abroad.” For the most part, Flynn and Smith, who graduated in 2000 and 1998, respectively, put their talents to work for the automotive industry.

In a nutshell, I think it’s as much problem-solving methodology as it is the skill of being resourceful. PRE SI D E N T E RI C SM I TH

68 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

Neither started Mid-South Industrial Automation — that happened in the early 1980s, when it was primarily a machine shop. But since Flynn and Smith came to the helm in the early to mid-2000s, the business has morphed into a two-part operation, focusing on machine building as well as automated systems.

“Of course, we learned a lot about theory of machines, design and mechanisms. But nowadays with the digital era, we don’t have to get the books out and do calculations and such. It’s more of the step-by-step approach of saying, ‘Here’s our problem. Here are our givens or assumptions. What is the best solution?’”

“I go in and find out what the customer wants and then figure out in my head how that machine is going to work,” Flynn said.

That resourcefulness in identifying and solving problems is what both Flynn and Smith say was the most valuable part of the education they received at TTU.

Next, he puts his idea on paper, calculates the costs and pitches his proposal to the customer. The company offers “lean cell” as well as “lights-out automation” solutions, the first of which require operator guidance while the latter run automatically. Both Smith and Flynn credit their TTU education as the foundation for their success. “In a nutshell, I think it’s as much problem-solving methodology as it is the skill of being resourceful,” Smith, company president, said.

They continue to benefit from their alma mater when they need specialized testing done on the parts they produce for certain clients. “They wanted to go beyond just looking at the model on our screen; they wanted somebody who was in the professional engineering world to certify the result,” said Smith. “They wanted to make sure the part was not going to fail under a given load. So we had a finite element analysis performed, and it was a Tech group that did that for us.”


Jason Flynn, left, vice president at Mid-South Industrial Automation, and Eric Smith, president, stand before robotic equipment that is manufactured at their plant.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 6 9


ELECTRONICS

Tom Jones, co-owner and general manager of Research Electronics International (REI), visits the company’s manufacturing area.

Research Electronics International “We don’t make spy equipment.” Instead, Tennessee Tech University alumnus Tom Jones, co-owner and general manager of Research Electronics International, or REI, manufactures just the opposite.

“W

hat we make is counter-surveillance electronic equipment,” he said. “That’s the equipment used to find illegal bugging devices, cameras or any other type of

70 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

hidden electronics. “If sensitive information needs to be discussed — whether it’s a corporate, government or military organization — those

meeting rooms are swept for illegal devices. It sounds a bit high-tech security oriented, but it’s more common than you would think.” The company, founded in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., by Jones’ partner, Bruce Barsimian, relocated when Barsimian’s stepfather, Jim Walker, financed operations in Cookeville. Jones bought Walker’s part of the business in 1995. Since


An REI employee solders parts to a chip board.

there, he earned a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Central Florida. After that, he was a defense contractor in Huntsville, Ala., and an engineering branch manager, mainly supporting the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. “So really, my background is in the Navy, nuclear power, submarines and that sort of thing,” he said. “Then through ballistic missile defense, I was a radar systems engineer.” then, he and Barsimian — who serves as REI’s engineering director, helping with product concepts and development — have worked together in equal capacities. “We already had a little bit of an established market, but we certainly have grown and expanded our products and markets,” Jones said. A Cookeville native, Jones joined the Navy after graduating from TTU. That experience included being an instructor at the Naval and Nuclear Power School in Orlando, Fla. While

“We are a technically based company, so we do need engineers and test techs who have a good education — and Tennessee Tech provides that,” Jones said. “We have a good relationship with the university, and we can talk to the professors and get to sort of cherry pick the best. It works very well.”

Jones said his education at TTU was the perfect foundation for his role today in commercial security applications. “Tech is a fantastic engineering school,” he said. “You get the best of both worlds — a good, broad engineering education, but also a focused education. They push hard to make it technical enough in quite a few specialty areas. It’s not just academia-based, but real-world-engineering based. That’s the key.” It’s also a crucial component for the sustainability of a company like REI.

[Tennessee Tech is] not just academia-based, but realworld-engineering based. That’s the key. OWNER AND GM TO M JO NE S

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 7 1


MANUFACTURING

U.S. Pillars and Franklin Fixtures Leave it all behind. Do something groundbreaking. That was the plan for Tennessee Tech graduates Dave and Lisa Uhrik, who, after marrying in 2014, walked away from their corporate jobs for an innovative business experiment they refer to as “capital conservatism.”

T

hey’re making it happen through two companies — U.S. Pillars and Franklin Fixtures. “You wouldn’t cut down a 100-year-old tree without thinking about it, and yet we’re cutting down 100-year-old businesses without noticing,” Lisa said. The mission of U.S. Pillars is to purchase legacy companies in danger of closing — those that baby boomers have spent their careers cultivating — and move them to Tennessee. “You have 10,000 baby boomers retiring weekly, and they don’t have an exit plan,” Lisa said. “A United States treasure will be gone.” For Lisa and Dave, the goal is to bring such treasures to the

72 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

Highlands, which is what they did with Franklin Fixtures, the first of 11 businesses they plan to re-establish over the next six years, eventually transferring ownership to key employees.

store design to complete project management and store fixture installation. In a few years, the Uhriks will leave it to another. “Part of our model is identifying someone to run the plant, because we’re going to be buying more,” Dave said. “That person, or group of people, will get sweat equity over the course of eight years. We’re giving them 80 percent, while the other employees keep 10 percent in annual profit sharing.”

They hope the idea catches on. “We’re trying to create a national movement where people like us who have a lot of manufacturing history and live in a community with a Tennessee tag for a rich, vital resource can put these businesses into another generation’s hands,” Lisa said. Franklin Fixtures, a Massachusetts manufacturing company for more than 40 years, is a full-service source for standard, modified and custom display fixtures. The business, which got its fresh start in Cookeville in late 2015, also provides an array of related services ranging from

Lisa added, “We’ll remain invested, interested supporters with our 10 percent.” While both received bachelor’s degrees from TTU, Lisa also holds two master’s degrees from Vanderbilt University, one in developmental psychology and the other in human resources development. She’s now in a Ph.D. program in community literacy at TTU. “Our careers have been intricately tied into our education at Tech,” Lisa added. “We know we have a pool of resources we can call on.”


Lisa and Dave Uhrik visit the factory floor of Franklin Fixtures, a legacy company that they’ve recently moved from Massachusetts to Cookeville.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 7 3


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Business Profiles SECTION VI

The Highlands is bursting with successful businesses, large and small. From massive distribution centers to IT solutions providers, and from transportation giants to producers of everything from aerospace components to wine, all benefit from the fertile ground our area provides for growth and success. Here are some of their stories.


MULTIPRENEUR

PARTNERSHIPS THAT WORK

David Prowse Happy to Stay Put in Highlands

H

e credits success with two companies to area leaders doing things “nobody else has thought of.” A rising tide lifts all boats, as the old saying goes. Cookeville businessman David Prowse knows this to be true, having been at the helm of not one, but two successful operations in the Highlands of Tennessee — his latest being Bennett Industries, a half-century-old family business he became part of in 2012. “When I bought the business, everybody said, ‘Well, are you going to change the name?’ and I said, ‘No, it’s been Bennett Industries for almost 50 years

76 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

now,’” he said. “People know it, and they know the location.” Prowse attributes much of his success to the many businesses around him that are enjoying the same affluence of resources prevalent to the Highlands, as if bright prospects were contagious. “One of the charges of the Highlands and the local chamber is jobs — bringing in new industry as well as helping existing industry grow,” he said. “From a stingy standpoint, you can look at it and say, ‘Well, they’re taking away my employees by bringing industry in,’ but I just see it as more opportunities for me. For example, if we bring in a company like Ficosa, I’ll

potentially gain more business through their engineering or maintenance department. In that aspect, the Highlands has helped me.” Bennett Industries, founded by Hubert Bennett Sr. in 1966, specializes in metal fabrication, metal sales, welding and the like from its Burgess Falls Road fa-


cility. Hubert Jr. ran things until his death in 2008, after which time his brother Rankin, a retired Cookeville attorney, kept it going until Prowse — who was fresh out of the welded bellows business with his first company, Flexial — came into the picture. “I walked out the door [of Flexial] at 10 a.m. on July 1, 2012,

and Rankin Bennett called me at 1 p.m. and said, ‘Hey, would you be interested in buying an industry?’” Prowse said. He was — and did. “We sell a lot of material to the public,” he added. “We also sell to companies like Tutco and Averitt Express that need a

piece of sheet metal, tubing or something like that. We also do all kinds of welding, fabrication and repair work and make stairways and mezzanines for buildings, machine frames for automated equipment — just about anything metal.”

David Prowse on the shop floor at Bennett Industries.

The company takes on jobs both big and small.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 7 7


A welder at Bennett Industries assembles a piece of equipment.

“It really varies,” Prowse said. “For instance, we’ve done everything from automated paint lines for torque converters at Dacco to repairing someone’s bush hog. We do a lot of work for individuals. It’s tough scheduling that stuff in, but it’s a niche around here. That’s why we keep doing it.”

For a time, Prowse studied industrial technology at Tennessee Tech University.

Prowse moved to Cookeville from Springfield during his senior year of high school in 1977.

In the late 1980s, Prowse connected with future business partner Rick Larson, who had moved to the area from Florida with Robertshaw, a company that engineered welded bellows, which are flexible metal tubes used by numerous industries in various ways. Prowse joined the team, but when the company relocated to Carthage, he and Larson decided to stay in

“I was actually born in Florida, but my family moved to Tennessee when I was 2,” he said. “I lived in Columbia, Lawrenceburg, Fayetteville, Whitwell, Chattanooga and Springfield before making Cookeville my home. I just loved it here.”

78 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

“I never did finish my degree,” he said. “While I was at Tech, I had the opportunity to apply for a plant manager position. I said, ‘Give me a chance, and I’ll prove myself,’ and they said, ‘Okay.’”

Cookeville and start a competing company — Flexial. While Larson brought his knowledge of welded bellows and sales to the table, Prowse knew manufacturing. Roger Colglazier became the third member of the team, adding his accounting skills. Together, they created products now found in everything from plumbing systems to commercial airlines — even the International Space Station. “We’ve got several of those up in space going 18,000 miles an hour around the world every 90 minutes,” Prowse said. The partners sold the company in 2010, but Prowse stayed


David Prowse, below at left, goes over plans with an employee at Bennett Industries.

on for 18 months through an employment contract before moving on to his next venture. Whereas Flexial specialized in “some pretty flashy things,” he said, Bennett Industries is on the other end of the spectrum — but still a necessity. “We’re able to service the companies that come in, putting tooling on their floor, whether it be carts, conveyors or whatever they need,” Prowse said. “We work with a lot of companies around here.” Like many business leaders in the Highlands region, Prowse has benefited from the local university. “We recruited a lot from TTU,”

Prowse said of his days with Flexial. “At one time, I believe 80 to 85 percent of our staff was degreed from Tennessee Tech, whether it was in engineering, business or accounting. So that was definitely a positive.” Prowse also appreciates the partnerships that have developed between businesses and community leaders. He himself has served on Chamber of Commerce boards and participated in the Highlands Economic Partnership, a strategic plan to accelerate economic and community development in Putnam, Jackson, White and Overton counties. “I’ve seen the fruits of our labors and how well these partnerships

We’re doing things here nobody else has thought of. PRES IDENT DAVI D PROWSE

work,” he said. “There are so many intangibles you can’t put your finger on that are a result of the Highlands. We’re doing things here nobody else has thought of.”

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 7 9


CREATOR

C O M B I N I N G TA L E N T, SKILL AND RESOURCES

Eric Jackson Propels Company to World Acclaim

S

ometimes, the combination is just right — and such is the case with White County and Jackson Kayak. It’s a story that goes back to 2003, when Olympian kayaker and professional fisherman Eric Jackson discovered that his new home in the Upper Cumberland, where he brought his family a year earlier, was not only a dream locale for outdoor adventure, but the ideal place to put down business roots. And that’s exactly what he did. “Awesome whitewater kayaking was the primary reason I came here,” Jackson said, noting White County’s abundance of recreational opportunities as well as natural resources, such as that of nearby Rock Island State Park — his favorite place in the United States to paddle through rushing waters. “Low cost of living and high quality of life here were two big attractions. After moving here, I

80 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

decided to start Jackson Kayak and realized only then how ideal the location is for manufacturing.” In the beginning, Jackson — who was already a well-known name in professional paddling due to his former U.S. Olympic team status and multiple world and national championship titles — merely wanted to create a kayak small enough for his son, Dane, who was 10 at the time and weighed just 40 pounds, to be able to join in the fun. “I have been a professional whitewater kayaker since the 1980s and began doing different types of work for other kayak brands with design, sales and brand management,” he explained. But the company he worked for back then didn’t go for his new pint-sized design. That’s when he decided to produce his own brand of the small, narrow boats that are propelled by a double-bladed paddle.


Eric Jackson, founder and owner of Jackson Kayak, stands before a row of completed kayaks at his factory in White County. [Photo courtesy of Jackson Kayak]

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 8 1


Eric Jackson, Jackson Kayak owner, tackles the whitewater at the Teva Mountain Games Kayak Competition. [Photo courtesy of Jackson Kayak]

Fast forward to 2016: Jackson Kayak has become a worldwide lifestyle brand, producing hundreds of products ranging from fully assembled kayaks to ice coolers. “We just purchased our third factory this past year,” Jackson, who serves as president, said of the business located at 3300 McMinnville Highway in Sparta. “We started with 735 square feet in 2004 in Rock Island and then purchased a 100,000-squarefoot factory in 2006. Our latest factory purchase is 320,000 square feet.” It’s a niche market Jackson has been happy to fill with his sleek, colorful assortment of kayaks, which have attracted the attention of distributors and customers all over the world. “We are known by enthusiasts in the sports we make products for, such as whitewater kayaking and kayak fishing,” he said. “We are also a rotomolded plastics manufacturing company, using

82 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

our expertise to make large and difficult products such as road barriers and playground slides.” In the beginning, Jackson Kayak focused exclusively on whitewater kayaks. By 2007, some general recreation kayaks had been added to the lineup, followed by fishing kayaks in 2011. “Each new product line brought new growth to our company,” Jackson noted. And business has gotten even better with the company’s latest addition — Orion Coolers — which kicked off in 2015. “Orion Coolers is giving us a big boost in sales,” Jackson said. “It was a natural fit for Jackson Kayak, as we could use most of the same materials and craftsmanship.” Jackson and his team have won several awards for their work, including the “Made in USA” Sassy Award for having more than 100 employees and

the Governor’s Award for Trade Excellence. “Jackson Kayak is successful because we have the best team of people in the industry,” he said. “We love being in Tennessee because we can pull from a talented work pool, have low cost of living and enjoy a great environment for both living and doing business.” And while Jackson continues traveling the world for kayaking competitions, training and more, he’s always happy to come back home to the family business with wife Kristine, children Emily and Dane, and the rest of his team. “I love creating products for people to enjoy,” he said. What’s his vision for the future of Jackson Kayak? “We want to continue to grow and bring more jobs to our community,” he said. “We also want to become more profitable for everyone involved.”


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BUILDER

PA S S I O N F O R P L AY I N G

Fitzgerald Business Leads the Way on the Highway

W

hile the term “glider kits” might bring to mind the Wright brothers or soaring gently from a scenic cliff, Fitzgerald Glider Kits, located in Byrdstown, has nothing to do with flying. It has a lot to do with transportation, however, and the company has made a national name for itself in its industry. A glider kit is a brand-new truck that comes from the manufacturer without an engine and transmission. The folks at Fitzgerald Glider Kits install a completely rebuilt engine and

84 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

transmission, resulting in a new truck with numerous advantages over a traditional, brand-new truck. “Glider kits are newer vehicles with older running gear,” said Tommy Fitzgerald Jr., head of marketing and sales and son of the company’s founder. “The engines in trucks almost never wear out.” Fitzgerald Glider Kits is the largest glider kit dealer and assembly operation in the country. The Fitzgerald family has taken the small, family-owned and

operated business from a service station in the 1980s to the premier glider kit company in the United States. The company began operation in 1989 and now serves a national customer base, completing 80 to 90 trucks every week. Long before “glider kit” was a household phrase in the transportation industry, Tommy Jr.’s father, Tommy Fitzgerald Sr., and his uncle, Ricky Fitzgerald, had a service shop together, working on muscle cars and diesel engines. In 1989, a customer asked the brothers


to make a glider kit. (Glider kits had been around since the mid’70s but were not common or well known.) That endeavor was successful, so the Fitzgeralds ordered five more the next year and 50 the following year. It was by far the greatest number of glider kits ever ordered. Eventually, they shifted their business solely to glider kits. The Fitzgerald family had a passion for engines long before the business started. Tommy Sr. and his 12-year-old son, Robert, would work together on engines every evening after work. Sixyear-old Tommy Jr. would watch them work through a window. “My brother Robert was always passionate about the technical aspects of engines,” said Tommy Jr. Tommy Jr. started working for the family business at age 16 and began full-time after he

graduated from high school. Both brothers are involved in the company, with Robert heading up Fitzgerald Collision and Repair Center in Overton County, a repair center for big rig trucks. This partner business helps keep gliders on the road and out of the shop. The company has streamlined and expedited the process of repairing engines after accidents. With trucks taking an average of five days to repair instead of the industry-average 35 days, drivers save money by getting back on the road. “In our industry, downtime is everything,” said Tommy Jr. “If a truck is sitting still, it’s not making money. There is about a $500 to $800 loss of revenue per day when a truck is not on the road.” Fitzgerald Glider Kits has enjoyed tremendous growth in

its industry and has continued its streak by growing 80 percent each year since 2010. Tommy Jr. attributes the growth to the inherent benefits of gliders in conjunction with the unique advantages the company offers its customers. Leading the way in research and development in the industry has enabled Fitzgerald to continue to be at the forefront of the glider business. Tommy Jr. attributes the company’s growth, in part, to a strong presence on the internet. His dad and brother encouraged him to to explore online avenues of business.

Tommy Fitzgerald Jr., head of marketing and sales at Fitzgerald Glider Kits, stands on the shop floor. [Photographer: Brian Bourke]

“We do business all over the country,” Tommy Jr. said, “and most is internet based. Only 5 percent of our sales are based in the state of Tennessee. The rest are sales in other states. We’ve found creative and clever ways to track web use.”

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 8 5


Working here is kind of like winning the lottery, and people have been our greatest resource. TO M M Y F IT ZG E RALD J R. , M ARKE TI N G/ SALE S

86 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

The company’s national customer base is 45 percent owner-operators and 55 percent small fleets. “More people are catching on to what we do here,” said Tommy Jr. “Some people still don’t know about it. The more education we can get out there, the better.” With the inherent advantages of glider kits, Tommy Jr. sees a bright future for growth for the entire industry. The recycled big rigs boast better fuel mileage at $10,000 savings per unit per year; lower initial purchase price; environmental benefits; and repair and maintenance cost savings, among other benefits.

One of the major advantages of Fitzgerald’s gliders is the company’s dedication to making it cheaper and easier to get the truck back on the road after an accident or a breakdown. The way the gliders are configured, according to Tommy Jr., it is easier to locate problems than on traditional engines and a simpler process for both mechanics and drivers to repair them. With more visible components, a driver can more easily see and fix a maintenance issue if it happens on the road. “We take the maintenance issues that bothered us, and we make them better,” said Tommy Jr. In addition to benefits to the gliders themselves, there are


A mechanic works to install older truck engines into new truck bodies on the shop floor at Fitzgerald Glider Kits. [Photographer: Brian Bourke]

definitely advantages to the business being in a rural area, with one of the most vital benefits being the local workforce. The company employs 120 people at its Byrdstown facility, with 300 total workers at all of its facilities. If the company weren’t here, individuals who love working on engines might have to drive to a more metropolitan area to do the kind of work they get to do at Fitzgerald. “A lot of people here are motor heads,” Tommy Jr. said. “They’re car savvy. They can do what they love and work close to home. We are not having to compete for skilled labor. Our

workforce is eager to get to work. We have very, very little turnover. Working here is kind of like winning the lottery, and people have been our greatest resource.” Another advantage of the company’s location is its proximity to Interstate 40 and Highway 111, both with a lot of trucking traffic. “Interstate 40 is the most liked interstate by truckers,” Tommy Jr. said. Fitzgerald has facilities in Byrdstown, Pall Mall, Livingston and Crossville, Tennessee, and Albany, Kentucky, among others, so truckers are aware of

the business. And with almost 30 years of experience building gliders, business seems to only be increasing, with the company projecting even more growth in 2016. By providing customers with a broad range of popular truck brands, the company has continued to improve glider kits and make them a more popular and affordable option.

The Fitzgerald Collision and Repair Center is located in Overton County, Tennessee. [Photographer: Brian Bourke]

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 8 7


MANUFACTURER

MADE IN AMERICA

Cookeville’s Oreck Plant Gets Work Formerly Sent Overseas

A

ssembled in Tennessee. Built on Tradition. That’s the slogan of TTI Floor Care in Cookeville. It’s something the company is proud of, and a big change from the way the company’s vacuum cleaners were manufactured before coming to the facility in Tennessee. TTI Floor Care North America, home to Hoover, Dirt Devil, Royal and Oreck vacuum cleaners, is the largest floor care manufacturer in North America. Headquartered in Glenwillow, Ohio, the company bought Oreck, including the Cookeville facility, in 2013. “TTI was initially just interested in the brand,” said Kathy Riedel, Cookeville plant manager, “because it’s got such a deep reputation and a long history. They’re a very rooted floor care company, so when the opportu-

88 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

nity to acquire yet another large brand came on the market, they kind of jumped at the chance.” When TTI officials got to Cookeville, they saw more opportunities than expected. They discovered a top-notch plant with unique capabilities and a perfect fit with their other facilities. They also found an impressive workforce and a central location for quick and efficient shipping to the majority of the United States, and the ability to move manufacturing from China and Mexico to Tennessee. Riedel points out that when TTI purchased Oreck, the company didn’t necessarily plan for the Cookeville plant to be a manufacturing facility. Historically, TTI has always outsourced its production. “Their (TTI’s) intention was not to manufacture here,” Riedel


Kathy Riedel, Cookeville plant manager for TTI Floor Care, visits the TTI factory floor.

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 8 9


said. “They kind of rethought that after they saw our facility and our operation and said, ‘Maybe there is a niche that these guys fit into.’ Fortunately for us, they decided to make us part of their manufacturing operation.” But Cookeville is not just part of their manufacturing operation. It is TTI’s only manufacturing operation in the country. When TTI purchased Oreck, according to Riedel, the local plant and its workers made an impression on the company and provided a new and unique niche for them. “What Hoover does is big markets,” Riedel said. “That’s what China does very well. They do high-volume products, and they do them very well. What they perhaps don’t do as well, and where we come into play, is lower volume, high-quality units that the commercial environment needs. So that is where we fit into the niche and into the road map for TTI. We are the premier manufacturer of their premier vacuum, the Oreck brand, as well as the commercial vacuums.” The Cookeville facility now manufactures both Oreck and Hoover vacuum cleaners. Riedel

9 0 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

points out that the plant produces Oreck brands for people who don’t clean for a living but have to clean, such as store and restaurant owners. The heavy-duty Hoovers are manufactured for commercial cleaning companies that clean sizable areas such as airports and other large, high-traffic areas. “We transferred a lot of products into this facility almost immediately after the acquisition — products that were being produced in Mexico and China,” said Riedel. A unique aspect of the Cookeville facility is that it was formerly an automotive plant, TRW, which produced airbags. A large number of TRW employees stayed on when the plant became an Oreck plant. Because the automotive industry is highly specialized and safety and quality focused, Riedel points out, these values of the automotive mindset — utmost safety and highest quality — have continued as the plant switched from one product to another. “We’ve got a great team,” Riedel said, “and because of the Oreck legacy, we’re extremely customer focused. We have a tremendous customer service kind of culture, from the people out on the floor, making sure

Fortunately for us, [TTI] decided to make us part of their manufacturing operation. PL ANT MANAGER KATHY R I E DE L


TTI’ s Cookeville facility now manufactures both Oreck and Hoover vacuum cleaners.

we’re doing it right and everything is up to our standards, to the people in the office and the people in customer service. And that really is what we brought to the table for the commercial side of the business. Because, although they had maybe the technical capabilities and they had the salespeople, they really didn’t have the connection to the factory. Now we’ve kind of shortened that pipeline from a customer service standpoint.” The Cookeville facility has grown exponentially since soon

after its acquisition by TTI. The expansion included the transfer of seven injection molding machines from Mexico to Cookeville. These machines take tiny plastic pellets, often recycled, and mold them into the plastic parts for vacuum cleaners. When TTI purchased the plant, a large percentage of the space on the floor was vacant. Now, with several more assembly lines in place to manufacture even more vacuum cleaners, the plant floor is filled to capacity with equipment and people.

Riedel says the production at the Cookeville plant grew about 40 percent from 2014 to 2015 and is expected to grow another 25 percent from 2015 to 2016. “We are positioned both in the company and in this factory to grow substantially in the next three to five years,” Riedel said. “The commercial market is a little slow to adopt, so our growth isn’t as kind of hockey stick as we first thought, but we are growing — year over year, an increase in sales — we’re coming out with new products

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 9 1


that are going to capture markets that we’ve not been in before, so it’s pretty exciting stuff.” The 310,000-square-foot facility supports manufacturing and assembly operations and also includes a distribution center, a large warehouse for storing raw materials, a refurbishing area and a call center. The 300 employees work in heated and air-conditioned surroundings and can take advantage of a fitness room and hot meals available to purchase during working hours.

In addition to the high-quality culture and strong workforce at the Cookeville facility, TTI liked the central location of the plant. With its perfectly positioned locale and proximity to major highways and interstates, the plant was ideal for distribution. “We’re centrally located, and that’s why we are still distributing,” Riedel said. “It makes sense because we are within a day’s drive of about 70 percent of the population of the United States. It’s really a large area that we can cover in a short time.”

"This is just such a great area, not only to work, but to live. PL AN T M AN AGE R KATHY RI E D E L

9 2 • Highlands Economic Development Guide

The plant somehow manages to specialize while “doing it all” at the same time. “We’re a little bitty megalopolis over here,” quipped Riedel. “Everything we make, we distribute — both Hoover and Oreck. We really expanded our customer base. We’re distributing to more and more dealers instead of just Oreck stores. We also ship consumer direct.” Riedel also points out that this community is one that both businesses and their employees find extremely gratifying. “The proof is in the pudding,” Riedel said. “We’ve gotten so many new businesses in. This is just such a great area, not only to work, but to live. I think it’s just very attractive, not only for companies themselves, but for the workers they would need to draw into the area.” As the company continues to grow in this community, it will demonstrate its pride that many of its Cookeville products are made entirely in this country by American workers. Stacks of boxes ready for distribution wait for shipment on the plant floor, with the words “Made in the United States” prominently displayed on each box.


Recruiting TOP TALENT for the Upper Cumberland

CHC MECHANICAL CONTRACTORS

COOKEVILLE HEATING & COOLING SERVICES

Helping Build on the Foundation of the Highlands for Nearly 50 Years Air Conditioning, Heating, Plumbing, Process Piping

premier steel fabricator

Only certified fabricator in the highlands

CRMC North Tower

Monterey High School

-Complete division 5 steel packages -On site welding and cutting services -Certified structural welders in SMAW, GMAW, and GTAW -Vortman V505 Fully Automated Steel Processing -CNC plasma and acetylene cutting Whitson-Hester School of Nursing at Tennessee Tech University

931.526.1063

Cookeville - (931) 528-5514 • Nashville (615) 678-1030 www. CHCcompanies.com


STATISTICS

RECENT ACCOLADES

RECENT ACCOLADES

RECENT ANNOUNCEMENTS

AREA DEVELOPMENT GOLD SHOVEL PROJECT

ACADEMY SPORTS + OUTDOORS

FICOSA North America, Cookeville

750 jobs (2014)

TN 3 STAR COMMUNITIES

TTI FLOORCARE

Jackson, Overton, Putnam, White

211 jobs (2014)

TN MAINSTREET COMMUNITIES

DACCO-TRANSTAR

Cookeville, Sparta

175 jobs (2015)

PROPERTY EVALUATION PROGRAM AWARDS

JACKSON KAYAK

Overton, Putnam, White

285 jobs (2015)

LABOR & EDUCATION ALIGNMENT PROGRAM GRANT RECIPIENT

FICOSA NORTH AMERICA

TN RECONNECT COMMUNITY 8TH MOST AFFORDABLE CITY IN AMERICA Cookeville (2015)

950 jobs (2015) FITZGERALD GLIDER KITS (2015) ATC AUTOMATION 100 jobs

9 4 • Highlands Economic Development Guide


OCCUPATION AND INDUSTRY CLUSTERS

QCEW Cluster

Industry Cluster

QCEW Cluster

Industry Cluster

Establishments

Establishment LQ

Employment

Employment LQ

Electrical Equipment, Appliance & Component Mfg

1

3.11

129

7.18

Forest & Wood Products

51

2.96

1,037

2.55

Primary Metal Mfg

3

4.28

132

2.48

Transportation Equipment Mfg

7

2.77

932

2.58

Machinery Mfg

22

4.07

433

1.59

Chemicals & Chemical Based Products

31

1.75

1,274

2.02

Fabricated Metal Product Mfg

25

1.67

528

1.27

Manufacturing Supercluster

60

1.92

2,192

1.33

Apparel & Textiles

13

0.78

341

1.64

Agribusiness, Food Processing & Technology

34

0.92

1,201

1.24

Transportation & Logistics

73

1.19

1,329

1

Biomedical/Biotechnical (Life Sciences)

111

1.19

4,736

0.99

Advanced Materials

58

1.61

1,438

1.01

"QCEW" stands for "Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages." "LQ" stands for "Location Quotient." A location quotient above 1.0 means that our region has a higher concentration of employment in a particular industry than the national average.

SOURCE: US Census Bureau

Highlands Economic Development Guide • 9 5


Largest IT provider in the Highlands Founded in 1997

+ + + + + +

Backup & disaster recovery solutions Network monitoring and maintenance Advanced network security Business phone systems Cloud hosting Help desk

www.EpicTn.com

931.526.EPIC (3742)

Shared goals. A can-do spirit. That’s community. CookevilleHomeFinder.com 47 years experience serving Middle Tennessee & beyond

BB&T Legge Insurance 1420 Neal Street, Cookeville, TN 38501 931-526-2191 Extensive line of machinery Custom Structural & Graphic Design Warehousing & Delivery

931.839.2227

1027 N. CHESTNUT ST., MONTEREY, TN 38574

www.cumberlandcontainer.com

B A N K I N G

.

I N S U R A N C E

.

I N V E S T M E N T S

Member FDIC. Only deposit products are FDIC insured. Š 2016, Branch Banking and Trust Company. All rights reserved.


Our Story Highlands Residential Services (HRS) began construction on its first housing development in 1957. Today, HRS operates 550 public housing units, 30 Low-Income Housing Tax Credit units, and 80 projectbased Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment units for the elderly and the disabled throughout Algood, Baxter, Celina, Cookeville, Gainesboro and Monterey.

Our Mission Apart from providing safe, decent and affordable housing, HRS hosts a wide variety of programs and services to help residents prosper. Each program is designed to help build a stronger community by creating partnerships and friendships, sharing information and developing a network of support across the region. And we dedicate ourselves to helping residents find the support and services they need to build better futures.

Our Services While our mission has always been to help area residents and families find homes, HRS has grown to offer a variety of community-building services. HRS offers job-training classes, homebuyer classes, after-school activities for teens, mentoring programs for elderly and disabled residents and much more. We believe that the residents in all of our communities deserve the highest level of commitment we can offer, and we’re dedicated to continued growth as we secure the resources needed to do so.

P.O. Box 400 • 235 W. Jackson St. • Cookeville, TN 38503-0400 • Ph. 931.526.9793 • F. 931.526.5841 • HighlandsRS.com

It is the policy of Highlands Residential Services to ensure that no citizen shall, on the grounds of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.


Our

HEART PROGRAM Is on Top

Because Our Bottom Line Is Caring

H

igher survival rates…fewer complications…lower readmission rates…shorter stays. All of these achievements and more are

why Truven Health Analytics™, an IBM® Company that offers unbiased health care industry ratings, has included Cookeville Regional in its list of the 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals in the nation for 2017. But for us, it’s just one more way of showing we care for you.

www.crmchealth.org

Highlands Economic Development Guide  

Filled with photos, charts and compelling stories, the Highlands Economic Development Guide beautifully captures the advantages of living, w...

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