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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."
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Last Update on December 19, 2014 18:50 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI says it has enough evidence to conclude that North Korea was behind the hack attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment.
An FBI statement cites, among other factors, technical similarities between the Sony break-in and past "malicious cyber activity" linked directly to North Korea.
The Sony attack, reported late November, involved the use of destructive malware that caused the studio to take its entire computer network offline and left thousands of computers inoperable.
The breach resulted in the disclosure of tens of thousands of leaked emails and other materials. It later escalated to terrorist threats that promoted Sony to cancel the Christmas release of the movie "The Interview," a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The FBI statement says North Korea's actions "were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves."
SONY HACK-MESSAGE FROM HACKERS
NEW YORK (AP) -- Hackers have sent a new email to Sony Pictures Entertainment, praising the studio as "very wise" to cancel the release of "The Interview" and saying Sony's data is safe "as long as you make no more trouble."
The email was confirmed Friday by a person close to the studio who requested anonymity because the person wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
The message warned to "never" release the film "in any form," including on DVD. The email was sent to several employees of the Culver City, California company.
The Obama administration on Friday formally accused the North Korean government of being responsible for the devastating hacking attack.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- T-Mobile US will pay up to $90 million, mostly in refunds, for billing customers for cellphone text services they didn't order, under a settlement with federal regulators.
The Federal Trade Commission announced the agreement Friday with T-Mobile over billing for unauthorized charges, a practice known as "cramming." T-Mobile, the fourth-largest U.S. cellphone company, is paying refunds to affected customers plus $18 million in fines to the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and $4.5 million in fines to the Federal Communications Commission.
The FTC sued T-Mobile in July, accusing it of billing customers for subscriptions to text services like $9.99-per-month horoscopes or celebrity gossip updates that they didn't want or authorize.
T-Mobile collected 35 percent to 40 percent of the charges, the FTC alleges.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker is criticizing a decision to delay full implementation of a rule that bears his name and aims to curb banks' risky investments.
The Fed said Thursday that it would delay until July 2017 the deadline by which U.S. banks will have to sell off potentially volatile holdings in private equity, venture capital and hedge funds.
In a statement, Volcker calls it "striking that the world's leading investment bankers, noted for their cleverness and agility in advising clients" need to take so long to reorganize their own activities.
Volcker says the banks' real aim may be to delay implementation of the law until they can get it changed. Congress passed the Volcker Rule in an overhaul of financial regulations after the 2008 financial crisis.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates fell in 41 U.S. states in November and were unchanged in six more, reflecting healthy job gains across the country.
The Labor Department says unemployment rates rose in only three states: Connecticut, Louisiana, and Washington state.
Solid economic growth since the spring has encouraged more employers to step up hiring. The U.S. has added nearly 2.7 million jobs this year, the most since 1999. That has lowered unemployment rates in most of the country.
North Dakota's 2.7 percent unemployment rate was lowest in the nation. Mississippi's 7.3 percent rate was the highest.
The biggest job gains occurred in California, which added 90,100 jobs in November, followed by Florida, which gained 41,900. Texas added the third-most jobs, with 34,800.
CHICAGO (AP) -- The average price for a gallon of gas has fallen below the $2.50 mark for the first time in about five years. Oil analyst Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy.com says the price of gas has dropped 41 cents over the last month with the average now at $2.46 a gallon.
According to GasBuddy.com, Texas features the lowest gas price with a station in Keller selling fuel for $1.69.
DeHaan says while the price of gas should continue to fall as the year comes to a close, the rate will not be as dramatic since gas prices have just about matched the steep decline in oil prices.
DETROIT (AP) -- Chrysler is recalling nearly 257,000 older Ram pickup trucks because the rear axle can seize or the drive shaft can fall off.
The recall covers Ram 1500 pickups from the 2005 model year.
Chrysler says in documents posted Friday by U.S. safety regulators that the rear-axle pinion nut can come loose. That can cause problems that make the trucks spin out of control.
The recall comes after an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that began in June.
The agency found 15 complaints, including seven drivers who reported that the wheels locked at speeds over 50 miles per hour. At the time, no crashes or injuries were reported.
Dealers will install a fix at no cost to owners. The recall will begin in February.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Health officials say prepackaged caramel apples are linked to five deaths and more than two dozen illnesses in 10 states.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says investigators are trying to determine the specific brands that were involved. But consumers are being warned not to eat prepackaged caramel apples until more is known.
The CDC says it knows of 28 cases in which people were sickened by a form of bacterial food poisoning called listeria, with 26 hospitalized. They got sick between Oct. 17 and Nov. 27. CDC said it's possible other illnesses have occurred since then.
Two of the deaths were in Minnesota, according to state health officials. The CDC said the illnesses also occurred in Arizona, California, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of cancer treatment company Juno Therapeutics Inc. are surging 60 percent in their stock market debut.
Juno genetically engineers a patient's own white blood cells to find and kill cancer cells in the body. It says its clinical trials have shown evidence of tumors shrinking.
The Seattle-based company raised $264.5 million after selling more than 11 million shares at $24 per share. It plans to use the cash raised to continue trials and studies. The stock is listed on the Nasdaq stock market under ticker symbol "JUNO."
NEW YORK (AP) -- Blackberry reported an adjusted profit for its fiscal third quarter, surprising Wall Street.
The Canadian company's stock climbed almost 3 percent in Friday premarket trading.
For the period ended Nov. 29, the company lost $148 million, or 28 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $4.4 billion, or $8.37 per share, a year earlier.
Stripping out some charges, earnings were a penny per share.
Analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research predicted a loss of 6 cents per share.
Revenue declined to $793 million from $1.19 billion. Analysts were looking for $927.8 million, according to Zacks.
Blackberry Ltd. said that it continues to target sustainable adjusted profitability some time in fiscal 2016.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Another major publisher has reached a multiyear deal with Amazon.com.
Amazon and Macmillan CEO John Sargent confirmed this week that they had agreed to terms for both print and electronic books. The deal will allow Macmillan to set prices for e-books, an arrangement known as the "agency model," and appears similar to agreements Amazon reached in the past two months with Hachette Book Group and Simon & Schuster. Authors at Macmillan range from Jonathan Franzen and Hilary Mantel to Oprah Winfrey and Bill O'Reilly.
Both Macmillan and Hachette have had public feuds with Amazon over terms for e-books. In 2010, Amazon briefly removed "Buy' buttons for all Macmillan releases. For months in 2014, the retailer restricted availability and reduced discounts for numerous Hachette books.
BANGKOK (AP) -- Thai Union Frozen Products is acquiring Bumble Bee Seafoods, a major seller of canned tuna in the United States, for $1.5 billion.
The Thai company says Friday that the purchase of Bumble Bee, which is owned by private equity firm Lion Capital, should be completed by the second half of 2015,
Its statement said Thai Union has annual sales exceeding 100 billion baht ($3 billion), and San Diego-based Bumble Bee Seafoods generates annual sales of approximately $1 billion.
The Thai company already owns Chicken of the Sea, another major U.S. provider of packaged seafood.
MIAMI (AP) -- The Cuban cigar is set to make its first legal appearance U.S. in years, with relaxed guidelines allowing travelers to return with a few in their suitcases. But the cigars won't roll into stores just yet, and owners say they aren't worried about business.
Some tobacco shops owners in Miami's Little Havana say most customers can't afford to travel to Cuba for cigars and won't do so regularly.
Licensed American travelers can return home with $100 in alcohol and tobacco products. Experts say that's three to 20 cigars.
Cigars brought back to the U.S. must be for personal use, not resale. If the U.S. embargo with Cuba is eventually lifted, many tobacconists say they'd welcome the change. They could add Cuban tobacco to their blends, and many believe they interest in cigars would increase.
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