2023 could be one of Shelbyville’s best years.
Or it could turn out not so well. What we see by next New Year’s will depend on cooperation, ambition, and a forward-thinking outlook.
Shelbyville’s not going to remain the sleepy little small town some still think of it as being. In many ways, Mayberry left Shelbyville some time ago.
Look around and housing growth’s already apparent. New subdivisions snd apartments are visible in Shelbyville and areas of Bedford County. Business growth hasn’t reached that level yet, but it’ll come – if Shelbyville can attract the right type of development.
For years I’ve heard false accusations that local government bodies have intentionally kept chain stores from moving to Shelbyville, These types of actions may have taken place years ago, but in, say, the past 20 years or so there’s been a strong focus on growing the economy.
Today’s problems attracting retail and businesses are due to poor demographics because so many of Shelbyville’s jobs are relatively low-paying.
Local leaders are trying to attract higher-paying jobs and build Shelbyville into the type of city those well-paid workers will actually live in instead of commuting from Murfreesboro. The rise in overall income can attract more upscale merchants.
A progressive city is not going to stagnate and remain the same size for years to come. Any time talk of growth starts, a certain few always begin spouting misinformed statements revolving around wanting to kick people out of office because they’re allegedly wanting to raise taxes. It’s astounding how hateful some people, with no fresh ideas of their own, are so ready to cut down anyone who disagrees with them.
And those people so often claim that “everyone” agrees with them. They must live in their own tiny little world. Fact check time: Not everyone agrees with, well, everyone.
I was looking Sunday at the empty lot where Tennessee Downs says it plans to build its auto lifestyle center and private road course. Maybe we’ll see something other than a sign someday.
Down the road, the proposed Middle Tennessee State University aerospace campus is a much more viable reality with a lot to offer Shelbyville and Bedford County. MTSU officials will be debuting a detailed plan at Thursday’s Shelbyville Airport Authority meeting. All local officials involved should look at this with an open mind.
MTSU’s meeting with Shelbyville City Council in December involved much talk about how they’d give Shelbyville a world-class reputation in the aviation industry. Admittedly, there was a lot of hyperbole, especially from MTSU president Dr. Sydney McPhee – but that’s one of his jobs, and he was doing that aspect well. The picture McPhee verbally painted for Shelbyville was bright
Shelbyville’s unusually large airport for a city this size was a drawing card for MTSU. That size is due to some progressive-thinking people from the 1940s and 1950s who thought ahead, especially pilot Bob Bomar, the airport’s founding father, and longtime Times-Gazette publisher Franklin Yates, who was not only a wordsmith but also a skilled pilot.
Other proposals for this area are promising. The Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership is working on much more than can be described in one column.
But there’s another hurdle.
Some people wrongfully get upset when they hear that new industries or retailers will be exempted entirely from paying property taxes, or paying reduced taxes, for relatively short periods of time. That’s common practice by cities and counties nationwide, it’s a tool for attracting new industries and businesses, and it’s necessary to be competitive.
Those new industries and businesses attract other businesses to those areas, They do pay taxes – and so will the larger industries and businesses when their exemptions end. The benefits outweigh any temporary tax exemptions.
Amazing opportunities are staring us in the face. Pushing them away isn’t going to improve anyone’s lives.