Business success often depends upon three key factors – location, location, location – and Maury County is capitalizing on its prime location in southern Middle Tennessee to create opportunities for new and expanding companies looking for the perfect place to do business.
Economic development officials are focusing on projects that will make Maury County the destination of choice for companies that need to efficiently ship goods by truck or rail, says Brandom Gengelbach, president of Maury Alliance, the county’s economic development organization.
“Time is money," Gengelbach says. "It’s about transporting goods efficiently."
With the assistance of the Tennessee Valley Authority, Maury County economic development leaders have been busy examining 13 sites along Interstate 65 to find the perfect spot for a potential new industrial park. They are also considering extending rail access to the Cherry Glen Industrial Park in Mount Pleasant.
“We’ve narrowed it down to a few finalists along I-65," says Wil Evans, manager of economic development for Maury Alliance. "We’re in the final stages, the nitty gritty."
State Route 840 Drives Planning
The goal of an I-65 industrial park is to make Maury County even more attractive to businesses engaged in light manufacturing and wholesaling, according to Gengelbach.
“That’s where our community’s sweet spot is,” he says.
With quick access to the interstate, the industrial park would position Maury County for growth once the final section of State Route 840 is completed and connects I-65 with I-40 in Dickson County west of Nashville. That long-awaited route will make it easier for Maury County manufacturers to reach customers across the country through the I-40 corridor, Gengelbach says. Trucks from Maury County will no longer have to travel on narrow state highways or detour for miles to connect with I-40 in Nashville before heading west.
“State Route 840 opens up from Memphis to Texas,” Gengelbach says.
The final stretch of SR 840 between I-65 and I-40 at Dickson is scheduled to be finished no later than December 2012, says B.J. Doughty, spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Competition for Cool Springs
The as-yet-unnamed I-65 business park will also position Maury County to compete for corporate offices like those in nearby Cool Springs. Those types of developments have already started moving south along the I-65 corridor toward Maury County, as evidenced by the arrival of TRG Customer Solutions in Spring Hill.
TRG, a leading global provider of outsourced customer management solutions and technologies, is creating 300 jobs at its new contact center in the Northfield Building, the former headquarters of General Motors’ Saturn division. The company is leasing 50,000 square feet of the Northfield Building, says Jan McKeel, executive director of the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance, which is acquiring the building from GM.
The building is a key community asset unmatched in any other non-urban county, McKeel says. Columbia State Community College, Belmont University and others operate workforce training programs there, and it will also be home to one of Tennessee’s nine business accelerators, where start-up businesses and entrepreneurs can lease space and get advice.
The Northfield Building still has about 150,000 square feet of space available for new businesses looking for a prime location, McKeel says.
“It’s beautiful," she says. "Even more than 20 years later, it looks like new."
With the 587-acre Cherry Glen Industrial Park, Maury County also has a location to offer businesses that need room to grow but don’t need an interstate location. The industrial park is approximately 20 miles from I-65.
To make Cherry Glen more competitive, officials are considering connecting it with nearby tracks operated by the Tennessee Southern Railroad. The proposal would require building a bridge over a four-lane highway to give Cherry Glen’s tenants access to a national rail network through Tennessee Southern’s CSX connection.
Businesses in the industrial park would also have access to the Port of Florence on the Tennessee River, which is operated by Tennessee Southern. The port serves barge traffic from the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
“It gives us an advantage attracting industry to our area,” says Matt Prince, general manager of Tennessee Southern.