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A Brief History of East Ridge Economic Development
By Richard Cook from our partners at East Ridge News Online:
The announcement that Bass Pro Shop plans to build an 85,000 square-foot retail store on land adjacent to Camp Jordan created tremendous excitement in East Ridge.
Since 2008 city officials have tried to pump new economic life into the city by a number of means. Most have fallen flat, as evidenced by a proposed water park on Ringgold Road. Some have succeeded, like the opening of Speedway later this month on the corner of Ringgold Road and Tombras Avenue.
Here is a brief timeline of some of the events leading up to the Bass Pro Shop announcement on Monday, June 9.
2008 _ Under Mayor Mike Steele's administration, it is announced that a developer out of Birmingham plans to build a water park on Ringgold Road near Spring Creek. Ground is broken at the site where the Dollar General Store now stands. For several months there is anticipation about the construction, but the development falls flat.
Steele explained last week that the developer, David Mays, had a financial backer in Birmingham who passed away during the initial stages of development. When the financial backer died, so did the project.
Discussions about economic development continued, officials said. However, the "Great Recession" put the brakes on businesses expanding to new sites.
Mayor Brent Lambert said he was at a Chamber of Commerce board meeting and a budget line item was brought up about economic development. "Well, there's none to speak of," Lambert said the chairman of the committee stated. "Talk about stagnation. That's where we were."
2009 _ Elected officials included a $50,000 line item in the fiscal year 2009-10 budget. The money would be used to hire a full-time employee who would work to bring new businesses into the city. The position was never filled, however. Reviewing minutes from those years show that the money earmarked under the city's administration department was spent in part to augment the salary of an administrative assistant for the city manager.
2010 _ In April, city officials fly to Springfield, Missouri to speak with Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops. Officials are attempting to convince Morris that the site of the old K-Mart and Sears Essential building on South Terrace should be considered for his business to expand into the Southeast Tennessee market.
Steele said at that time that city officials had been informed by another developer that Bass Pro was looking in the area. However, during this time the Cumberland River overflowed its banks in Nashville inundating retail stores in the area, including Bass Pro. "Discussions sidetracked and blew up," Steele said.
Also in this year, the city announced that it was interested in acquiring the building and property that once housed the Hungry Fisherman restaurant. That effort fell through after vandals looted the building destroying mechanical systems in the building.
In April of this year, officials with Wolftever Development obtained an option to purchase America's Best Value Inn on Camp Jordan Drive.
In August, Steele said he was approached by Wolftever Development with the idea of acquiring more than 30 acres of state property on Camp Jordan Drive adjacent to Fire Hall No. 2. In order for this to happen, city officials would have to appear before a Department of Transportation committee to plead its case.
Initially, TDOT was not in favor of designating the land as surplus and allowing the city to purchase it, officials said. The proposal was being slow-walked through the state bureaucracy, officials said.
Rep. Vince Dean persuaded Commissioner Paul Deggs to take another meeting with East Ridge officials. Newly-sworn Mayor Brent Lambert, then-City Attorney John Anderson, Rep. Dean, Vice Mayor Larry Sewell and the principals from Wolftever Development met with Deggs in Room 103 of the War Memorial Building.
This time, the state had a more favorable attitude toward the land being declared as surplus, clearing the way to sell it to the city.
"We needed a real shot in the arm and acquiring this land would provide that," Mayor Lambert said.
2011 _ The parcel of land at Exit 1 moves through a subcommittee and on to committee to be declared "surplus." A survey must be done before any sale can be made, officials said. It takes about a year for that process to be completed.
During this time, the state legislature is considering a bill called the Border Region Retail Tourism Development Act. It's aim is to "increase tourism and the competitiveness of this state with bordering states," according to TCA 7-40-102. "It empowers local governments to encourage the development of 'extraordinary' retail or tourism facilities, including shopping, recreational, and other activities."
East Ridge officials meet with state officials to explore the idea of qualifying to participate in development under the "Border Region Act."
The legislation was geared toward helping businesses in upper East Tennessee, the home of Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. Sen. Bo Watson sponsored the bill in the Tennessee Senate.
"We looked at this and said this is astonishing at what can be done," said Anderson. "This type of funding mechanism is how Nashville funded Titans Stadium."
In August, a group representing East Ridge met with the Tennessee Commissioner of Revenue to apply and hopefully qualify under the Border Region Act. Bristol and Kingsport follow suit.
2012 _ In March, the appraisal for the state-owned land at Exit 1 is completed. It is appraised at about $127,000. The city sells the land to Wolftever for about $150,000. That figure includes expenses the city incurred in buying it from the state.
Wolftever's John Healy said that in initial meetings with city officials, he told them that the entire site would have to be raised. This would cost a great deal of money and that the developers would need help in shouldering the financial burden.
Healy said that Wolftever went through dozens of renditions of how the property could be developed. The truth, he said, was that the money wasn't there to do it.
"When we bought it, at that time the city didn't agree to put any money into the deal," Healy said. "All along out intention has been to never flip the property but to develop it.
"The major thing to happen was the Border Region Act," he continued. This deal would not have happened without Border Region, period."
The Border Region Act passes the legislature and East Ridge, Bristol and Kingsport are the only three cities in Tennessee to qualify under the the legislation.
2013 _ Developers timber the site and clear the land at the site. Healy said that Wolftever did not have the approval to fall trees on state-owned land bordering I-75. He said the value in that land is the "visibility of 100,000 vehicles a day driving up and down the interstate."
Healy said that from the beginning Bass Pro Shops was the number one choice for a tenant at the Exit 1 site. Non-disclosure agreements prohibited Wolftever representatives from discussing any deals, Healy said.
2014 _ Wolftever got permission from TDOT to cut the trees along I-75, giving any potential tenant the valuable visibility it desired. Healy said the inability to clear the TDOT land kept the project from moving forward. Once that was done, things began to move fast.
In a special called meeting on June 6, the council passed a resolution pledging $5 million to "provide financial assistance and incentives" to move forward with the development at Exit 1.
The city had previously established an Industrial Development Board. The board was a requirement under the Border Region Act, officials said.
On June 9, the board met for the first time in the training room at City Hall. As the members of the new board were walking into the meeting, it was announced through a press release from Bass Pro Shops that it would build a new store at Exit 1.
Rep. Dean may have said it best: "It's not government's place to create jobs. It's government's job to create an environment where businesses would want to locate. This shows that the council can work together. That, to me, is more vital than anything.
"(Bass Pro Shops) is the triggering event," he continued. "The big bang is still yet to come."
More Business News
Last Update on July 30, 2014 17:40 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- After a dismal winter, the U.S. economy sprang back to life in the April-June quarter, growing at a fast 4 percent annual rate on the strength of higher consumer and business spending.
The Commerce Department says the second-quarter rebound followed a sharp 2.1 percent annualized drop in economic activity in the January-March quarter. That figure was revised up from a previous estimate of a 2.9 percent decline. But it was still the biggest contraction since early 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession.
Last quarter's rebound was broad-based, with consumers, businesses, the housing industry and state and local governments all combining to boost growth.
Economists expect that momentum to continue in the second half of this year, when they forecast growth of around 3 percent.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A private survey shows that businesses hired at a healthy pace in July, though the job gains slowed from the previous month.
Payroll processer ADP says private employers added 218,000 jobs last month, down from 281,000 in June. It was the fourth straight month of job gains above 200,000, a healthy pace that usually is enough to lower the unemployment rate.
The figures suggest that the government's jobs report, to be released Friday, will also show a solid increase. But the ADP numbers cover only private businesses and often diverge from the government's more comprehensive report.
Economists forecast that the government's report will show that 235,000 jobs were added in July, while the unemployment rate stayed at 6.1 percent, according to a survey by FactSet.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Officials tell The Associated Press that a nonpartisan investigative report concludes that management failures by the Obama administration set the stage for the computer problems that paralyzed the HealthCare.gov website last fall.
The Government Accountability Office -- the investigative agency of Congress -- will report Thursday on its months-long investigation.
GAO said the administration kept changing marching orders for contractors who built the computerized sign-up system, creating widespread confusion and leading to tens of millions of dollars in additional costs.
Republican and Democratic congressional aides briefed on the report say it faults the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for ineffective oversight.
CMS is the lead agency administering President Barack Obama's health care law.
The aides spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the report ahead of its release.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A former IRS official at the heart of the agency's tea party controversial calls Republicans "crazies" and more in newly released emails.
Lois Lerner used to head the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status. In a series of emails with a colleague in November 2012, Lerner made two disparaging remarks about members of the GOP, including one remark that was profane.
Republican Congressman Dave Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, released the emails today as part of his committee's investigation. Camp says the emails show Lerner's disgust with conservatives.
In one email, Lerner called them crazies. In the other, she used a profanity.
Congress and the Justice Department are investigating whether the IRS improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups.
CONGRESS-OVERSEAS TAX BREAKS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican senators have blocked an election-year bill limiting tax breaks for U.S. companies that move operations overseas.
The bill would have prevented companies from deducting expenses related to moving their operations to a foreign country. The bill also would have offered tax credits to companies that move operations to the U.S.
Democrats championed the bill, saying it would end senseless tax breaks for firms that ship jobs abroad.
Republicans called the bill an election-year stunt. They noted that Democrats tried to pass a similar bill two years ago, right before the last congressional elections.
The White House says President Barack Obama supports the bill.
DETROIT (AP) -- A Texas lawyer has sued General Motors on behalf of 658 people injured or killed in crashes allegedly caused by faulty ignition switches.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan names 29 people who were killed and 629 who were hurt. All the crashes occurred after GM left bankruptcy protection in July 2009. That makes them exempt from GM's efforts to shield itself from claims due to crashes that happened before the bankruptcy, attorney Robert Hilliard said.
Hilliard said he wants to file another 248 cases from before the bankruptcy, including 21 deaths.
The lawsuit alleges GM knew about defective switches that can cause engines to stall since 2001, yet it didn't recall any cars until this year. GM would not comment on the lawsuit.
DETROIT (AP) -- Hyundai is recalling its popular Sonata midsize sedan to fix problems with the gear shift levers.
The recall covers 883,000 cars from the 2011 through 2014 model years.
The Korean automaker says the automatic transmission shift cable can separate from the shift lever. If that happens, the lever may not show the correct gear, increasing the risk of a crash.
The company says in documents posted Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators that it has received 1,171 warranty claims about the problem, plus seven other reports with related symptoms. The documents don't say if there have been any crashes or injuries.
Hyundai will notify owners by letter between now and the end of September. Dealers will inspect the shift cables and repair the connection if needed.
NEW YORK (AP) -- About 11,000 Kawasaki off-road vehicles are being recalled because debris can cut through the foot rest area and hurt riders' legs.
The recall is for 2012 and 2013 Kawasaki Teryx4 750 vehicles with four-wheel drive. They were sold at Kawasaki dealers from October 2011 to July 2013 for about $13,400.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday that there have been four reports of debris breaking through the floor boards of the vehicles. Two riders reported injuries to their toes and thighs.
Owners of the recalled vehicles should stop using it and contact a Kawasaki dealer, or call 866-802-9381, to get a free repair. Kawasaki said it will install floor board guards and replace damaged floor boards on the recalled vehicles.
MILAN (AP) -- Italian carmaker Fiat SpA, which controls Chrysler, says its second-quarter profits dropped by more than a half due to lower performance in North and Latin America.
Fiat said Wednesday that net profit was 197 million euros ($263 million), compared with 435 million euros in the same period last year.
North American volumes were up 10 percent, driven by incentives to sell legacy Chrysler vehicles, but the incentives also cut into profits. Earnings before interest and tax in the region dropped 18 percent to 598 million euros.
In Latin America, revenues dropped 13 percent as vehicle shipments fell 21 percent.
Fiat said revenues in the quarter rose to 23.3 billion euros, up 1 billion euros over the same quarter last year.
Fiat is currently finalizing its merger with Chrysler.
PARIS (AP) -- European aerospace company Airbus says it expects its revenue to remain stable this year despite a big cancellation recently for some of its large A350 planes.
Airbus competes fiercely with Chicago-based Boeing Co. in the global market for large civilian aircraft. It took a hit in June when Emirates airline cancelled an order for 70 of the twin-aisle planes, opting for Boeing models instead.
Since then, however, Toulouse-based Airbus has announced a raft of new orders for its fuel-efficient A330neo.
In its earnings statement Wednesday, the company said revenue rose 7 percent in the second quarter from the previous year, to 14.6 billion euros ($19.5 billion). That helped boost its net income to 696 million euros from 531 million euros.
It expects deliveries to remain stable this year.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- WellPoint's second-quarter profit fell 8.6 percent as expenses climbed.
Its performance beat Wall Street's expectations.
The Indianapolis health insurer reported Wednesday that net income declined to $731.1 million, or $2.56 per share, from $800.1 million, or $2.64 per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.
Earnings, adjusted for investment gains, came to $2.44 per share. The average per-share estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $2.28.
Total expenses increased to $17.21 billion from $16.48 billion.
Operating revenue, which excludes investment gains or losses, rose 4.2 percent to $18.23 billion from $17.49 billion. That is slightly above the $18.22 billion Wall Street forecast.
Shares of WellPoint Inc. are up almost 22 percent this year.
TOKYO (AP) -- Nintendo Co. sank to a worse-than-expected loss for the fiscal first quarter on lagging Wii U video-game machine sales.
But the Japanese company behind Super Mario and Pokemon games stuck to its annual profit and sales forecasts Wednesday.
Kyoto-based Nintendo reported a 9.92 billion yen ($97.3 million) April-June loss compared with an 8.62 billion yen profit a year earlier.
Quarterly sales totaled 74.695 billion yen ($732.3 million), down 8 percent from a year earlier.
Nintendo has been fighting to maintain profits amid competition from games on smartphones and other devices.
Nintendo has also faced questions about the health of its president, Satoru Iwata, who said he had surgery earlier this month.
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