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Hooper, Graham talk industry

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 4/19/22

Many who are following the County’s workforce development and the 231 North Industrial Park project are asking about Project Cardinal and Project Turquoise, which are potential industrial plant …

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Hooper, Graham talk industry


Many who are following the County’s workforce development and the 231 North Industrial Park project are asking about Project Cardinal and Project Turquoise, which are potential industrial plant developments coming to the park.

At the March Board of Commissioners meeting, the board unanimously passed the resolution that approved the commission “authorizing and endorsing actions necessary for Project Cardinal’s location in the 231 N. Business Park.”

Even though specifics of Project Cardinal and Project Turquoise have not been released, Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership CEO Shane Hooper said it would “provide additional employment opportunities to our Citizens, promote new private sector capital investment in our community, and to increase local tax revenue . . . .”

“Why do we talk about things in terms of project names?” Hooper said at Thursday’s Chamber Luncheon. “It’s to protect everyone involved.”

“Companies in the United States, especially publicly traded companies, are governed by the SEC.” The SEC “gets you” for things like insider trade—that is when you share information about a company that you have that no one else has. Disclosing such information can result in fines and jail time.

“So, no, I’m not going to involve myself in insider trading and disclosing information that we shouldn’t talk about,” Hooper said.

Project Cardinal

Hooper said Project Cardinal is going to be a $117 million project. In the first stages of the project, they plan to employee some 160 people.

“I can tell you from the type of work they do and because they ask about doctorate programs at MTSU [Middle Tennessee State University] and programs in the STEM field, that means that they’re hiring...very good workers. And that’s one of the other things, too: we’re trying to find jobs that are above our average pay here,” Hooper said.

Project Turquoise

Project Turquoise will be about $12 million in capital investment and about 60 jobs. Capital investment is important, Hooper said, noting there is one company in Bedford that paid $750,000 in taxes last year.

“That $750,000 is what your elected officials use to provide services here in Shelbyville and in Bedford,” Hooper said. “The more industry that we have, the more we’re able to not raise taxes. Let the industries pay for it when they bring in equipment.”

For example, Hooper discussed how one plant/ industry purchased $12 million in machine equipment. That money in personal and real taxes, according to Hooper, will go into the “coffers of Shelbyville and Bedford without tax increases.”

They are also going to work on incentive zones. “Most developers, especially if they’re coming from somewhere else have dealt with communities that already have incentive packages on the table. That’s their expectation, especially if they know what they’re doing,” Hooper said.

“We don’t really have one right now, so what we’re trying to do is get in a position where we have one where we can lay out if you do this, this, and this in the area, we will do this for you or we will help you do that.”

This is important, according to Hooper, because companies do not have to come to Bedford, they choose to.

The mayor’s take

Bedford County Mayor Chad Graham recently told T-G, “From our perspective, the state economic development folks (we call it the ECD [Economic & Community Development]), they’re the ones really that drive when and what an announcement would look like with these folks because those companies in the end will either come or not come mostly based on what the state will do to incentivize them to put their plant there.”

Across Tennessee, the state offers incentive packages to bring companies to certain areas, which according to Graham also increases the competition.

“….They don’t want one trying to compare what one incentive might be available to them versus another,” Graham said.

“There’s a lot of information and details I don’t have...but I do know what we’re trying to get done with Cardinal,” Graham said.

He said the importance of the industrial park is there can be a designated area for industry.

“The industrial park is zoned for the kind of activity that would go there,” Graham said. “The other thing is trying to make sure you’ve got the right utilities,” especially having a capacity for sewer and water. This is in addition to having U.S. 231 front road access.

“The industrial park was almost more of a concept. The City and County bought the land, they identified it and zoned it as an industrial park,” Graham explained.

Graham said utility work had not truly been installed or put in place. As a result, the Shelbyville Bedford Partnership and 231 North Industrial Park Board have prioritized utility installation.

Graham said, “Because industries whenever they’re looking, once they... say, ‘we’re coming,’ they want to be operating in 18months. If all you’ve got isa cow pasture and a promise, you can’t be ready in18 months.”

Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership has secured over $7 million in grants to begin adding utilities and access to the industrial park, according to Hooper. Six million of that will come from a State Industrial Access (SIA) grant, while $1 million will go to the construction of a sewer system.

“That’s one thing that’s hurt us in the past in actually attracting a more robust industry that will bring what I call living wage jobs to your community. And we think we’re overcoming that,” Graham said.

He added, “I believe that these decisions and the things that we’re working towards are going to make Bedford better. It may not fix it over night, but the truth is this, it didn’t get in this shape overnight. It’s not going to get fixed overnight. But if we don’t use the systemic approach to resolve these problems, we’ll never lift the entire ship.”


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