With an enviable location on the I-65 corridor 30 miles south of Nashville, Maury County has enjoyed a burst in business growth that shows no signs of stopping. Attracting corporate investment and jobs, it prepares for the future by taking care of the businesses it has today.
"Maury County has a pro-business climate," says Wil Evans, director of economic development and interim president for the Maury County Chamber & Economic Alliance. "Several of our existing businesses have recently announced expansions, and we're seeing interest from new companies that are considering opening a location in our area."
General Motors recently kicked off production of its new Ecotec engine in Spring Hill and announced the addition of other vehicles, which will create more than 2,000 jobs.
"The creation of jobs at Spring Hill manufacturing is a direct result of GM's recent $460 million investment into the plant," says Kristy Bergstrom, GM spokesperson. "The investment facilitated additional flexibility to our state-of-the-art engine plant and led to the creation of more than 800 new jobs in 2012. Spring Hill manufacturing will continue to play a critical role within GM North America. With 26 product launches for model years 2012 and 2013, it supports an astonishing 19 of those by supplying engines and parts."
The area's mix of business and quality of life advantages make it an attractive location for GM, according to Bergstrom.
"Maury County offers competitive rates for conducting business, an ideal location to transport vehicles, parts and engines to sites across GM's North American operations, and wonderful amenities for our employees and affiliates," she says. "Southern hospitality is especially prevalent in Maury County with many GM employees opting to remain in Tennessee even after retirement."
More Automotive, Business Expansions
GM's restarted operations in Maury County have had a ripple effect, bringing automotive suppliers to the region like Magna Seating, which produces seats for the Chevrolet Equinox at its primary assembly plant in Ontario and moved to Columbia to support production of the vehicle.
Auto parts manufacturer IB Tech hired close to 500 employees at its new Mount Pleasant facility. And on the call center front, IBEX Global, a customer management technology company, is looking to expand its Spring Hill operations.
"IBEX Global has about 1,100 employees," Evans says. "They have become one of our largest employers since they opened their call center in Spring Hill in 2011. We definitely appreciate the automotive market as a huge part of our economy, but we also know a diverse economy is a strong economy. We're working to recruit different types of advanced manufacturers as well as logistics, operations and support centers similar to IBEX Global."
Evans says the Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance works to keep existing businesses happy and in the area by meeting with industry leaders. His office conducted 40 interviews of existing business leaders during 2012 to identify and address their needs.
"We are always looking to improve what we have to offer," he says.
Building a World-Class Workforce
One area that county officials are constantly enhancing is the education system. Evans says the county has strong schools and is committed to continuous improvement.
"We're doing great things to improve and develop a future workforce," he says.
Maury County is home to Columbia State Community College and Tennessee Tech Centers in nearby Hohenwald and Pulaski, all of which offer programs to prepare workers. A 25,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing development center is also open at the Northfield facility in Spring Hill.
The county is also served by the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance and the Tennessee Career Center, both of which help businesses by pre-screening applicants and coordinating workshops and training.
"These facilities are top-notch in the state," Evans says. "I've heard from people in other parts of the state that have good things to say about our organization. We can definitely offer job training for companies that are looking to locate or expand here."
Maury County also offers an exceptional quality of life, Evans says.
"Our atmosphere is definitely that of a smaller community," he says. "Everybody knows everybody. But we are close enough to Nashville to offer the livability factors desired by some. Maury County has it all."