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 02, 2015 17:44 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, but the level of applications is still low and points to an improving job market.
The Labor Department says weekly applications rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, ticked up 1,000 to 274,750.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Even with the increase, they remain far below 300,000, a historically low level that indicates companies are confident enough in the economy to hold onto their workers. That confidence can also cause them to hire more people.
Consumers have stepped up spending on clothing, furniture and cars, spurring faster growth. Home sales have also accelerated and are now running at the highest level in eight years.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories fell in May by the largest amount in three months, while a key category that signals business investment plans dropped for a second month.
The Commerce Department says factory orders declined 1 percent in May from April, when orders retreated 0.7 percent. Orders in a category that serves as a proxy for business investment were down 0.4 percent after a 0.7 percent decline in April.
Much of the weakness in May reflected a big 35.3 percent fall in demand for commercial aircraft.
But even outside of the volatile transportation category, orders were up only a tiny 0.1 percent. The weak showing suggests that manufacturing is still struggling with challenges such as lower energy prices and a strong dollar, which dampens exports.
GULF OIL SPILL
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Officials in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas have announced an $18.7 billion settlement with BP that resolves years of litigation over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Thursday's settlement announcement comes as a federal judge was preparing to rule on how much BP owed in federal Clean Water Act penalties after well over 125 million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf.
BP has said its spill-related costs already exceed $42 billion -- even without the Clean Water Act fine. It's also unclear how much BP will end up paying under a 2012 settlement with individuals and businesses claiming spill-related losses.
The spill resulted from the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 workers.
IMF blames Greece govt for predicament; says nation needs debt relief, $56 billion
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- The International Monetary Fund says Greece needs $56 billion in new financing from October through 2018 because Athens has been slow to enact economic reforms.
The analysis was made before Greece closed its banks and defaulted on IMF loans earlier this week. The outlook is worse now.
Greece's government plans to put austerity measures to voters on Sunday after European creditors rejected its latest proposal for a new aid program.
In Athens today, reporters asked Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (YAH'-nihs vah-roo-FAH'-kihs) whether Greeks can expect banks to reopen after Sunday's referendum. He resonded, "Of course!" and when asked when said: "On Tuesday."
He called a deal between Greece and its creditors "a certainty," adding: "Doesn't Europe know what is in its best interest?"
European leaders have said if the vote goes Varuoufakis' way and Greeks reject creditors' demands, Greece will face financial chaos and eventually be pushed out of the 19-nation eurozone.
FIAT CHRYSLER-RECALL HEARING
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A top U.S. auto safety regulator says that Fiat Chrysler failed to provide timely and accurate recall information to her agency and that customers also have problems getting accurate information.
Jennifer Timian, acting director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's defect investigation office, made the remarks Thursday to start a public hearing on the company's recall performance.
She says the problems are widespread and involve slow response to vehicle defects that have caused deaths and injuries.
The agency called the rare hearing to listen to evidence that Fiat Chrysler misbehaved on 23 recalls involving more than 11 million vehicles. NHTSA alleges that the company didn't notify car owners quickly enough, failed to make replacement parts or repairs fast enough, and didn't file paperwork on time in numerous instances.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Ford is recalling 433,000 vehicles, including 2015 Focus, C-MAX and Escape models, because of a software problem that could keep their engines running after drivers try to shut them down.
Ford Motor Co. says there is a flaw in the body control module software in the vehicles. As a result of the problem, the engine could keep running after the key is turned to "off" and removed, or after the start/stop button is pressed to turn the engine off.
The company says no injuries or accidents have been associated with the problem. Ford says dealers will update the software at no cost to consumers.
The recall affects about 375,000 cars in the U.S., 52,000 in Canada and 5,000 in Mexico.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Philadelphia has legalized and plans to tax Airbnb and other short-term rentals ahead of Pope Francis' visit in September and next year's Democratic National Convention.
Airbnb says the city on Wednesday became the nation's largest to legalize rentals through online marketplaces. It joins San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, among cities authorizing the transactions.
Philadelphia also changed zoning rules to allow rentals in residential areas and is subjecting them to an 8 1/2 percent hotel tax. The rentals had been operating tax free.
City Councilman William Greenlee says Airbnb-type rentals are essentially short-term hotels and should be made to follow the same rules.
A permit is required for rentals lasting more than 30 days. The city says homes can't be rented out for more than 180 days per year.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week, reaching high levels for the year.
Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.08 percent this week from 4.02 percent a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 3.24 percent from 3.21 percent.
Mortgage rates have increased in recent weeks, in the midst of the spring home buying season, as the economy has shown signs of improvement.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Reelz channel is coming to the rescue of Donald Trump's Miss USA pageant.
Reelz said Thursday it will carry the pageant that was dropped by NBC after Trump made critical comments about immigrants from Mexico.
In a statement, Reelz chief executive Stan E. Hubbard said the company believes the Miss USA pageant and its contestants are an "integral" part of American tradition.
Reelz, an independent cable and satellite network, decided to exercise its own voice and bring the pageant to viewers, Hubbard said.
He made no mention of Trump, who has faced criticism and lost business deals since making his comments during his presidential campaign announcement last month.
Reelz said Miss USA will be televised Sunday, July 12, the originally scheduled date.
CENTENE-HEALTH NET ACQUISITION
UNDATED (AP) -- Medicaid coverage provider Centene is spending about $6.3 billion to buy fellow insurer Health Net, as managed care companies look to bulk up while adjusting to the federal health care overhaul.
St. Louis-based Centene Corp. said Thursday it will pay a combination of cash and stock valued at $78.57, based on Wednesday's closing price, for each Health Net share. That's a premium of about 21 percent over Health Net's closing price of $65.06. The deal totals about $6.8 billion counting debt.
Both companies' boards have approved the acquisition, which is expected to close early next year.
Health Net Inc., based in Woodland Hills, Calif., gives Centene a chance to increase its enrollment in Medicaid coverage, the state and federal program for the poor and people with disabilities. The overhaul expands Medicaid coverage for millions of people.
CYSTIC FIBROSIS DRUG-FDA
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal health officials have approved a new combination drug for the most common form of cystic fibrosis, the debilitating inherited disease that causes internal mucus buildup, lung infections and early death.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the twice-a-day pill from Vertex Pharmaceuticals for a variation of cystic fibrosis that affects about 8,500 people in the U.S. who are 12 years and older. The approval notice was posted to the agency's website.
The new drug, to be sold as Orkambi (or-KAM-bee), is Vertex's follow-up to its breakthrough pill Kalydeco (kuh-LYE-deh-koh), which became the first drug to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis in 2012. Orkambi combines Kalydeco with another new drug ingredient.
Kalydeco is only approved for a cluster of rare forms of cystic fibrosis.
PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) -- Tesla's second-quarter deliveries surged 52 percent to set a company record exceeding 11,000 vehicles.
The Palo Alto, California, electric car maker surpassed 10,000 vehicles for the first time in the first three months of the year and on Thursday said it had broken that record, delivering 11,507 vehicles.
Tesla makes only one car, the Model S sedan, but CEO Elon Musk said last month he expects to begin deliveries of an SUV, the Model X, in three or four months.
Tesla cautioned Thursday that record deliveries are not an indicator of overall financial results. The company has consistently lost money as it ramps up production. Despite record sales in the first quarter, the company lost $154 million.
Shares of Tesla Motors, Inc. are up 2 percent before the opening bell.
Side RoadsTake a ride with Brian Smith to explore the unique people and places to be found along the Sideroads of the NewsChannel 9 viewing area.
The Good LifeCelebrating the events, adventures and activities that represent "The Good Life" in the NewsChannel 9 viewing area.
Closings and DelaysThese are the latest School and Business Closings reported to NewsChannel 9. If you see errors or need to add a school or business, call 423-757-7320.
Deaf & Hard of HearingInformation provided to NewsChannel 9 by members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community.
Sponsored EventsCheck Back Often for NewsChannel9 Sponsored Events!