Road, rail, air, fiber keep things happening fast in the Jackson area.
Jackson has many advantages that benefit residents and businesses, including its geographic location, strong transportation network and best-of-the-best technology infrastructure.
Jackson is just 80 miles east of Memphis, 120 miles west of Nashville and in the Central time zone, which puts it one hour behind the East Coast and two hours ahead of the West, extending the working day for companies that do business throughout the country. Major roads radiate from Jackson like spokes on a wheel, including Interstate 40, which has 10 city interchanges and is undergoing an upgrade to widen from four lanes to six lanes through Jackson.
Also easy to access are U.S. Routes 45, 70 and 412, and state Routes 18, 198 and 223. Tennessee is within a day’s drive of 76 percent of the nation’s population.
“More than 50,000 vehicles pass along I-40 each day, making us an attractive location for manufacturing and distribution,” says Kyle Spurgeon, president/CEO of the Jackson Chamber. “We have been very successful over the last 30 years in attracting manufacturing companies, and a big reason is that the highway network throughout West Tennessee is four lanes. That gives many companies the capability to move goods in and out of Jackson in any direction.”
Rail carriers such as CSX, Norfolk-Southern and West Tennessee Railroad also accommodate the city, and McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport offers daily commercial flights to St. Louis via Air Choice One.
“Besides serving our more than 70 manufacturing companies with names likes Delta Faucet, Kellogg, Owens Corning, Pinnacle Foods and Stanley Black & Decker, the city’s highways move our workforce in and out of town, since more than 50 percent of the workforce lives outside Madison County,” says Mandy White, Jackson Chamber senior vice president of economic development. “Moving raw materials in, finished products out, and getting workers to our community quickly and safely is what our transportation system is all about.”
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Nation’s Fastest Fiber
Another key aspect of the overall infrastructure in Jackson is fiber connectivity, and most residents and businesses are connected via Jackson Energy Authority, which provides electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, cable, Internet, telephone and propane delivery.
“We developed the first true fiber-to-the-home network in Tennessee, and today you can be in Jackson and have the fastest internet in the nation,” says Ben Lovins, Jackson Energy Authority telecommunications division senior vice president. “We started our system in 2003 and have put about $80 million into it so that internet access is available everywhere in the city at very competitive rates.”
Lovins says one of the many good aspects of having a local provider is that customers can visit an actual office to talk about their energy needs.
“Our CEO lives right in town, and we all shop at the same stores and attend the same churches as the people we serve,” Lovins says. “We pride ourselves on top-notch service, whether it’s assisting a manager at a huge manufacturing plant or somebody just getting cable TV from us.”
Lovins points out that a major advantage offered by Jackson Energy Authority is gigabit connectivity, which is the fastest broadband speed available. In January 2015, Jackson was named a “Gig City” thanks to upgrades of its fiber network, which now offers home internet speeds up to 1 gigabit per second.
“You can’t go anywhere in the United States and get faster internet connectivity than in Jackson,” Lovins says. “Gig service is available to any business or home in Jackson, and all the local public schools have gigabit connectivity, giving students all the data they need to further their education and develop as our future workforce. Fast broadband is the new ‘must have’ utility of the world, and Jackson has it.”